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COLUMNS

Life over by the vegetable oil

Kesley Colbert Contributing Writer

We were halfway down aisle 8, trying with all our might to stay out of the way. Luke had picked out his beef jerky and loaded a case of root beer on the cart. He was through shopping. I only came because Cathy said I had to help carry the groceries to the van.

She and Luke’s mom were doing some serious buying. We were going to be here for a week. And there were twelve of us! His job over, my not yet ready, found us mostly in the way as the year-end shoppers piled over each other to pull toilet paper, baked beans and wavy potato chips off shelf after shelf.

Aisle 8 was the less crowded choice. “KK, what is Wesson Oil?”

I turned to see a virtual litany of vegetable oil brands displayed behind us. “I’m not sure Luke. I believe it is used more for cooking than to protect engines.”

We studied the various offerings of Pompeian, Crisco, Canola, Great Value, etc. in silence…. Until Luke spotted one with no label, and with his fourteen-year-old tongue planted firmly in his cheek, declared, “Look, it’s the mystery oil!”

We both laughed; mostly I think at the enjoyment of the moment.

“KK, we are at the end of a decade.” I knew vegetable oil wasn’t going to hold his attention very long.

More silence as I hustled to switch gears with him.

I could see a serious question coming before he got it out, “What is your favorite memory of those ten years?”

You talk about sending me racing back! I figured I was typical for my age group. We added two of our six grandchildren, celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary, I retired, lost Mom and a brother, traveled to the Holy Land and slowed my pace to appreciate the people in my life. Luke was as serious as a heart attack but he wasn’t quite at the age to understand the depth of his question.

I’m not sure life is any more precious as you get older, but somehow that preciousness is definitely more profound.

“Oh Luke, that’s easy,” you’ve got to know your audience, “back in 2014 at a tractor pull in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, I saw a runaway tractor knock out the south wall of the stands. People were flying in every direction!”

His laughter was genuine.

I didn’t tell him that standing in aisle 8 in front of the vegetable oil on the day before the last day of the current decade with my oldest grandchild was a moment that would rival any of the others. We didn’t need flashing lights. People doing backflips out of tractor pull bleachers. And the exciting trips to SEC football games were great, but not essential.

He was a number one memory all by himself!

We had to shift to the left towards the Paul Newman salad dressing as a young lady in a big hurry made a bee-line for our vegetable oil. She selected Canola, never realizing her intrusion.

As we eased back to our spot in front of the mystery oil, my mind leaned forward to the upcoming decade. It, in all likelihood, could be my last. Not so for Luke!

He was standing on the threshold of what would be, in all likelihood, his most impressionable, most exciting, most memorable and the largest growth and maturing decade of his life! He would graduate from high school, college, leave home, find the love of his life, jump headlong into a career of his choosing and maybe even get his own family going.

Whew! That’s a lot to chew on I don’t care what aisle you’re killing time in!

“KK,” he came alive with that sideways grin and a chuckle that bled into his next statement, “why did you tell that lady she made the right choice—you don’t know anything about vegetable oil.”

Oh, how I wished him Godspeed!

And in a very selfish moment right in the middle of aisle 8, I hoped one day, a few decades down the road, he might see a Crisco commercial or pass by a bottle of Wesson oil left on a kitchen counter……and pause and take one of those meaningful and loving backward glances.

All good things gotta come to an end. And so it was with our shopping sojourn. Cathy waved us towards the cash register. I couldn’t tell if Luke was as disappointed as I was. Kind’a hard to read those young teenagers……

Counting My Blessings,

KK