If you saw a little Marilyn Monroe action in the parking lot of Walmart last Sunday afternoon, it might have been me. I had no time for a flirty, bashful “oh no!” look as my dress flew in the breeze. I was fighting a thunderstorm that had blown my umbrella — and my dress — inside out.
“I can’t believe you’re walking through the Walmart parking lot without shoes,” my 22-year-old son had said to me as I had removed my shoes before exiting the store.
“I can’t believe I’m showing my undergarments in a Walmart parking lot,” I thought to myself just moments later. I might not have been able to save my dignity, but I would save my leather shoes, by golly. They were safely bagged in plastic. My “fit and flare” dress offered no safety (or dignity). It was living up to its name in the wind. Even soaked it was flying high, my legs, like the shaft of my umbrella, exposed.
I muscled the umbrella closed, yanked my dress into position, and then hurried through the raging wind and rain, fighting my dress and following my son with the laden cart. Our movements were highlighted by flashes of lightning and roars of thunder.
We practically threw the bags into the trunk, then got into the car, laughing as we closed the doors. The weatherman had warned we’d have storms, but this one seemed downright hurricanesque. First, we were held hostage in Walmart by the weather; then we were soaked and blown about by it. It was quite the adventure.
“Man, I can’t believe I didn’t bring my phone,” Adam said. “I had intended to vlog today — and this has been the most exciting day I’ve had in a long time.”
Indeed. We’d underestimated the storm that close-up looked mightier than Irma. When the rain had seemed momentarily lighter, the threat of frozen food thawing drove us into the abusive weather.
Where I became Marilyn Monroe. Well, not exactly. Black dress, not white. Barefoot, not high heels. Pouring rain, not sunshine. Flashes of lightning, not flashes from a camera. (Or at least none that I saw. Lord knows, I could have a video on the People of Walmart site and not know it.)
It wasn’t until after I drove (barefoot) to my son’s apartment, helped carry his groceries (while still barefoot) to his apartment and returned to my car that I wiped my glasses dry, took a peek in the rearview mirror and thought, “This is what love looks like.”
I shot a selfie. (From that, I gathered that love looks downright old, actually, as well as wet — but so, so happy.)
Six hours before, I’d picked up my adult son, fed him breakfast, took him to church, took him to lunch, took him to get a haircut, and took him grocery shopping. Love made me do it. Love made me want to do it. Love got me soaked.
My plan had been to stop by the mall for a brief reward — shopping — before I returned home, but as I surveyed my drippy self, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. So again I thought, resigned to no shopping but oddly content, “This is what love looks like.”
But as I switched on the engine, backed out of the parking lot, I thought of my son and thought, “That is what love looks like.”
God’s love for my child and for me — because He’d moved some serious mountains to make this time together happen. (That’s a long, personal story that is saved for my private archives now and for sharing, perhaps, in the future.)
And my son’s love for me.
As the taller of the two of us, he’d held the umbrella above my head as we had made our way into Walmart. I stayed mostly dry; he got mostly wet. The store’s air conditioning felt positively freezing as we shopped.
As we walked the aisles selecting groceries to get him through a week working for a lawn company, he chose conservatively and carefully, not wanting me to spend too much money on him.
When we finally emerged from the store to fight the wind and rain, he insisted I take the umbrella alone while he managed the cart.
That is what love looks like. Sacrifice. Putting others first.
I wished then that rather than a selfie, we’d shot a couple “us-ies.” A photo of us on the bench as we attempted to wait out the storm. A photo of us in the car, soaked to the skin. (I actually wouldn’t have minded a photo or video of our travail in the weather as we walked to the car, undergarments and all.)
It would have better captured what love looks like.