The Power of Wipes.

posted in: Day In The Life, Food, Travel 13
Fried chicken. Not pictured: Wipes! Image: Wikipedia.
Fried chicken. Not pictured: Wipes! Image: Wikipedia.

My grandma was a stable figure in my life for a long time. She could be counted on for a hug, she never hollered at us kids — even if we deserved it and we so did — and she always, always had a few things in her purse: Trident cinnamon-flavored gum, a couple “fun-size” Snickers bars, a few Brach’s peppermints, an emery board, and fresh Kleenex. Always.

I never had much use for the emery board. The Trident was only interesting if my sisters hogged the Snickers bars/peppermints before I got to them. The Kleenex was handy. But more important than needing these particular items was knowing they would invariably be there. My grandmother’s consistently stocked handbag gave me a sense of security, a belief that there was order to the universe even if there wasn’t. I’m still not sure there is order, but in some universe, in some dimension, I can reach over in church and whisper to Gramma if I can have a peppermint and Gramma will stick her hand down into her purse and there will be one to give me.

Some friends and I were at a fried chicken restaurant not so very long ago. The restaurant was packed. The only seats to be found out on the breezy patio (the best place to eat fried chicken) were those wedged in between people who had gotten there before you did. We looked around to find a place to put our butts and our baskets and then I spied room next to some folks already seated. If we squeezed, the four of us could join the three of them at the wide picnic-style table. We asked, and they said of course and made room for us right away.

It helped that one of their party was a baby. Beautiful Blake, with her shining eyes and her caramel-cream baby cheeks couldn’t have weighed more than 20 pounds. Her young parents, Curtis and Kristina, were friendly and interesting and we all chatted over the course of our respective meals of hot chicken, collard greens, black-eyed pea salad, french fries, and so on.

When we were finishing up, my friend Leah and I were both frowning at our hands, which were covered in grease, and our fingernails, which needed serious attention. We looked at the line to the bathroom and were about to despair and wipe our hands on our bluejeans when Kristina pulled an entire pack of Dove-brand wet wipes out of her generous satchel.

“I’m a mom,” she laughed. “I’ve got what you need right here.”

We whooped with gratitude as Kristina passed the pack around. She made us all so happy! Our hands were wiped clean and cool after our dinner. But there was a deeper feeling of joy in this for me: Baby Blake is one heck of a lucky baby. That kid has a mom with wipes at the ready, you know? And she’s willing to share them with strangers who she made room for in a busy room, in a big city.

Thanks, Kristina.


13 Responses

  1. Colleen Kole
    | Reply

    You write so well that you make baby wipes sound absolutely enchanting. I love this post and always look forward to the next one.

    • Julie
      | Reply

      I 2nd that. You summed up my feelings perfectly!

  2. Jeanann
    | Reply

    Thank you for this lovely image.

  3. Glenda Hoagland
    | Reply

    I love your writing and this was one of the better posts in a while. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  4. Maria
    | Reply

    Baby wipes are wonderful! I brought them with us camping years ago and while I was a newbie at camping, my sister, the veteran, thought they were the neatest thing since sliced bread. She didn’t have any children so that is how she got introduced to baby wipes. I also keep them on the backs of every toilet and in the car. They should be called Lifesavers!

  5. Julia Sander
    | Reply

    As a grandmother now myself, I can usually be counted on for wipes & bandaids. In the event that an adult needs a bandaid, before I look for one I do warn them that they should prepare themselves for the possibility of a character bandaid. I like knowing my grandchildren can expect little things like that from me!

  6. Colleen
    | Reply

    I am the grandma that has everything the grandchildren call my car the Mary Poppins car because I have it all. But the weird thing is I carry a smallish purse but I seem to have the correct odd thing when it’s needed .
    So my grandchildren learned quickly to ask grandma first and I am also the bathroom buddy and meal time buddy they trade food with me . I am so happy to have lived long enough to be one…and now we have neighbors that don’t have family near so I get to grandma them I love children and the things they say are just priceless the little girl said you are squishy my mom is not squishy why are you squishy her mother was turning red so I quickly said because I am old the girl said oh and we continued playing….the mom later said sorry I said no it was a good honest question and I love that your daughter feels ok to ask me what she wants .

  7. Carol Fosdick
    | Reply

    Your posts are always so well written and speak to my heart. Wipes are a necessity and don’t forget the “Tide stick”!

  8. Cindy mizer
    | Reply

    With my grandma, it was Dentine, safety pins and gloves. She always had gloves-even nice white ones.

  9. Donna Johnston
    | Reply

    With my grandma Dixie, it was cinnamon flavored wooden toothpicks! She had a little pack of them, so cool! My other grandma, Ceil, was the one who always had butterscotch candies wrapped in amber cellophane. Love the connections and similarity between women everywhere.

  10. Barbara
    | Reply

    I always have wipes with me, and a few of the other things as in your Grandma’s mystery purse.I keep a batch in my car also.
    This is a lovely post, and your Grandma probably didn’t realize she was doing anything special. xoxo to yo Mary.

  11. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Like the Boy Scouts ‘Always prepared’. Your Grandma sounds just like my Pastor’s wife, always had an extra handkerchief up her sleeve (literallt) when we went to the alter to pray. What a grand time you had with your Grandma…good lessons for later days. Love your stories, they make me smile.

  12. Cara
    | Reply

    Oh, that post makes me happy! And you know what? I’m that Mom! My husband and I are totally squeeze in and make friends people, and I always, always have wipes. Probably a cloth, too. Definitely hand sanitizer – which we try not to overuse, but can really be a life saver if something important gets dropped on a gross floor or marker gets on the table. Never before have I felt like I had a super power, but after this post I feel I do. The power of a friendly heart and well-stocked bag.

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