Who would have thought a visit in passing to a newly launched Walgreens store on West Boylston Street would find me draped over the steering wheel crying my eyes out?

Of course the uncontrollable weeping was held at bay until I got into the privacy of my trusty Mazda 3, but I sure would have been a sight if someone had happened upon me in the Seasonal aisle wracked in sobs of grief over my dead mother. I'm telling you, I nearly lost it coming across a box of imported-from-China battery-operated hand-held personal fans.

She loved Walgreens and I hated that store with a passion. I used to get really irritated when one of the old ladies at the nursing home would give her a copy of their weekly advertisement from the Sunday Telegram because it always meant my mom pleading with me to visit Walgreens to pick up some of their sale items which they invariably NEVER had in stock. I can't even convey the extent of my arguments with my mom over something not being in stock. It usually went something like this:

"But it's in the paper. They've got to have it. It's on sale!"
"No, " I would try to reason, "They make up these ads months in advance and just because it's on sale doesn't mean they're going to have it."
"Maybe it's in the back?"
"No, it's not. They don't have it."
"I'll go ask someone."
"Well, you can go ask someone, but they're not going to have it."

It would go on and on like this. She would insist and I would try to reason with her, but in the end my voice would rise in frustration, we would start swearing at each other and eventually she would just get really pissed off at me and storm off into another section of the store.

Our most infamous battle was over the aforementioned battery-operated fan. She wanted it so much because when you hit the Go button, the fan would spin around really fast and make this bright, LED colored light show. It was kind of groovy and psychedelic to just stare at it and I think that's why she wanted it so much. I, of course, thought it was the biggest waste of her money because she would use it once, get bored with it and then want to give it to me as a gift.

Sometimes I would break down and take her to the only local Walgreens which was on Park Ave in Worcester. I feared for our safety going to that store because of its location and wouldn't have been surprised if during one of our visits, we were involved in a violent stick up while my Mom was buying a bag of Strawberry Creme Savers.

But every time we went there, she would look for that damned hand-held personal fan. She just kept thinking that they'd get it back in stock. It didn't matter that it was the middle of Winter, she wanted that fan and was determined to buy it. I just couldn't get her to understand the retail marketing strategy of the Seasonal aisle. Winter months featured Christmas decorations and Valentine's Day candy. Spring brought Easter decorations and Jelly Beans...not personal hand-held fans that gave off light shows. That was reserved for our hottest months and there was no guarantee that who ever supplied these cheaply made fans would continue to supply Walgreens with the same design year-after-year.

I remember when I showed her this soon-to-be opening Walgreens on West Boylston Street. I happily said, "See? We can go there anytime you'd like because it's so close and much safer than the one on Park Ave." She was excited that I was willing to take her to Walgreens without any fuss and was looking forward to when the store opened.

I forgot all about the new Walgreens after she died this past November. I'd pass it every so often and see it's construction progress. But I had no interest in visiting Walgreens. After all, in the food chain of discount drug stores, Walgreens gets the lowest position because it's just a junk store that never has advertised sale items in stock. Here's my current ranking:
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Target
  • Brooks Pharmacy
  • Any supermarket drug store section
  • Wal-Mart
  • Walgreens
But tonight on the way home, we decided to stop into the newly opened Walgreens to check it out. To tell the truth, they had advertised a new SKITTLES flavor: Limited Edition Carnival and I just had to hit that. But rest assured, they didn't have it. And right after being disappointed, I found myself wandering over to the Seasonal aisle and that's when my hidden grief over losing my mom to cancer back in November hit me like a ton of bricks. That stupid personal fan. There it was tucked up on a shelf--boxes and boxes of them waiting to be advertised and bought by anyone else other than my mother.

I paid for my purchases and got back into the car. I gripped the steering wheel and just let the dam burst. I never would have thought during all those annoying shopping trips we took together that going shopping with my mother to a Walgreens would be one of the things I miss most now that she's gone.

I would have told you were she still alive and well that I hated taking my mom shopping every Tuesday and Friday for these past eight years because it was always a source of massive frustration. I'd bargain with her over what she could and couldn't buy in the store like she was my five year old daughter. Sometimes I would buy what she wanted just to shut her up so I could get some peace. Other times I would lie and tell her the store didn't have something because I knew she really didn't need to waste what little money she had on yet another $5.99 t-shirt. (She had to have every color Hanes t-shirt made, one color was never enough) Other times I would leave her to sit in the car while I ran into the store to buy her a bag of candy because I didn't have the patience to deal with her slow lumbering movements with the walker because I knew that I could be in and out of the store 90% faster than if we both went in together.

As her caregiver and her only child, I know that I did my best for her. But coming across that stupid cheap fan really hit home to what I lost when my mom died six months ago.

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  1. Anonymous12:00 PM

    What a great daughter! I KNOW she owrked your last nerve on these shopping trips, but you kept taking her. That's what counts. She loved you so f'ing much! Thanks for writing this!