I spent the whole of yesterday -- I had X'd out a vacation day several weeks ago for this adventure -- on a girls' day out, helping shepherd two elderly aunts-in-law through Cabela's ginormous Dundee sporting-goods/lifestyle store so they could go Christmas shopping for their kids and grandkids. Think Driving Miss Daisy squared.
And these ladies, ages 87 and 90, are pistols. The homebound husband of the younger aunt had not only mapped out a detailed diagram of the Cabela's store, but also created an itinerary of which departments his wife was to visit, and when. The two sisters thought this was hilarious. "Maybe I'll go where I want to when I want to," declared Aunt H defiantly. When I explained that we would probably have lunch first, and noted, "Well, there goes the master plan," she beamed in triumph.
The sisters spent some time discussing, with great passion, both current events and various extended-family issues. When the topic of a serially dysfunctional great-niece's latest life drama came up, Aunt A suggested, "That girl needs to be professionally studied."
We began our adventure with lunch in the Cabela's cafeteria (barbecued elk, anyone?)...and then FT and I were summarily dismissed: "You two go where you want to go, and we'll meet you at the front of the store."
So for the rest of the day we surreptitiously tracked them -- ironic considering the venue -- occasionally dropping in to make sure they were all right.
At one point the 90-year-old whispered conspiratorially in my ear: "It's hard shopping with [her 87-year-old sister]. She's a little...high maintenance."
The aunts had a great time. We delivered them to their respective residences in respetctive cities, got home and promptly collapsed into incoherent puddles of fatigue.