My Cute Little German Mother is mastering the art of maneuvering those little electric carts that stores provide for the handicapped. She has a very bad knee and can’t walk but a few steps at a time without great pain, so these things are very liberating for her. I do my best to be supportive, but it would be conservative to say that she’s still got a bit of “mastering” to do. A couple of weeks ago, we were at Kroger and she was on one that seemed particularly speedy. Now the drill is that I take a regular cart and get what I need, and she goes her separate way to look for what she wants. We are then supposed to meet back up in the front of the store in a designated number of minutes. This almost never happens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve circled Wal-Mart and Kroger, up and down each aisle, in search of my missing mother. Sometimes I think I might just as well be looking for Bin Laden. This day had me exceptionally stressed. Every time I heard the “beep, beep, beep” of a cart in reverse, I could picture her backing over someone, or knocking over another display. She had been struggling with the speedy cart and the one time I saw her, she was knocking over an endcap filled with flashlights. I went over and picked up the mess, and she was off again. I found what I was looking for and went to the front of the store to meet her. But she was not there. I waited there a while before I began my up-and-down search, then went back to the front. Still, no Cutie. I searched again and found her near the cheeses. Brie was on sale ... a “Manager’s Special.” Fine with me, it beats the heck out of the Limburger, stinking in the fridge for days. We got the cheese and went to pay. With several more “beeps” and near misses along the way, we had arrived at the finish line. Thank God. I thought about the hundreds of minutes I’ve spent these past few years, searching for her in various stores, spending way more on groceries than I do when she is not with me at the store. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: she’s lucky she’s so darn cute. But, the other day I remembered something that brings it all into perspective. Now, I already knew that she had sacrificed for years and, certainly, spent way too much at the store when my sisters and I tagged along as teens. But this memory was priceless. I was 5 years old and just had my tonsils removed by a man who might better be described as a butcher than a surgeon. My mother never left my side and tried all manner of soft, cold foods until I was eventually able to swallow something. When I was 10 and had an emergency appendectomy, she slept under the bed across from mine at the hospital. She had come to the emergency room with me and my dad, straight from a garage sale she had been having that day ... and stayed at the hospital with me the whole time. My dad brought her clean clothes, etc. Thinking about these things made me realize that caring for her now is an honor, a privilege that I’m thankful to undertake. She sometimes teases me about the time she had a plaque that said, “I only want to live long enough to be a burden to my children.” Love her, mission accomplished. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. After paying for the groceries at Kroger that day, my Cute Little German Mother knocked the automatic door right off its tracks on the way out.