I’m in a rush.  Quick stop to pick up a birthday card and then pile back into the car and take the big girls to gymnastics, at least that’s my plan.

We run into the Hallmark store. Sid and Aud occupied by the Christmas tree ornaments on display (yes on September 16). I grab the card and head to the check out thrilled with my own ability to pick the most appropriate birthday sentiments with record-breaking speed. Patting myself on the back that as the only one at the check out my plan will work, I will make it out faster than even I had intended and should land at gymnastics a full 2 minutes ahead of start time.

It is there at the check out that I get delayed. My money lifted in hand to pay.

The couple takes me by surprise. I had not seen them enter or heard them in the store as my girls giggled and I raced.

He asks the cashier next to me how the crazy stuffed animal that sings a Halloween song works. She shows him and then his wife lays out a most surprising laugh.

He in his Sunday best (only that it’s a Monday night at 6:30), tie and all. Her in her “go to meeting clothes” as well. Together they had to have a combined 160 years of living  between them and there they stand laughing over the animated stuffed animals that I always find so annoying.

I pause to just watch them; to take it all in. Almost as if on autopilot she stretches her arm to reach his tie. She gives it a quick nudge to straighten. I stumble over my “rewards number” for the cashier and gather up the girls to leave.

Moving to our car I can’t stop thinking about them. We pile in, the girls chattering about the newest Barbie ornament and it is there I pause again.

They are walking out of the store. His 80 plus years of living have worn down his shoulders as he walks hunched. He holds the door for her and they walk to the sidewalk. Wordlessly he holds out his hand for her and helps her down the step.

I ask the girls to look at the couple and in silence all three of us watch them walk across the parking lot to their ancient Crown Victoria.

The miles logged by those legs.

The girls and I drive away still without the words.

When I pull into gymnastics and look down at the clock I realize that the girls will be a full 5 minutes late to class and I really don’t care. The pause in the day was worth it.

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