Do you have those things that take you back to a place or a person or an event? Maybe it’s a song (this time that’s NOT what this is!), a smell, a place, a piece of clothing? Or maybe, like me today, it’s something totally weird. Like a package of gum. GUM, y’all.
In the big middle of HEB today, I straight up lost it. Like had to walk away from my cart and have a moment. See this gum? Cinnamon Orbit? In high school, this was my favorite gum. And knowing me back then, I was probably a gum snob and turned down anything that wasn’t Cinnamon Orbit. I haven’t even seen this gum in YEARS.
When I was in high school, and for some years after, this was my favorite gum. Because it was, my Grandma kept me well stocked in this gum. Like Sam’s Club bulk boxes. I seldom, if ever, had to buy it for myself. That’s what she did. If she knew there was something you liked (hello, Starbucks bottled fraps), she made sure you always had it. And more of it than you’d ever possibly need. Because that’s how she gave and how she loved.
I distinctly remember opening the last packet of Orbit Cinnamon that she bought me before the first time brain cancer tried to take her from us. By the time I got to that last packet of gum, a second round of brain cancer had already taken her from us. I almost didn’t open it. Because it was the last pack of gum I’d ever have from her. But I did.
Honestly, I think that may be the last pack of Orbit Cinnamon I ever had. I remember at times, looking in the check out line for it and never finding it. I guess time has a way of burying things in your memory. Because I honestly forgot about this gum…until today.
I made a wrong turn down and aisle at HEB, then stopped to answer a text. When I looked up, there it was. Right in my face. Cinnamon Orbit. In a split second, I was in that old blue Chevy Lumina with my Grandma (Grandpa, too, I’m sure) getting gum. I lost it. I didn’t totally hit ugly cry, but I certain hit unattractive cry. Over gum. GUM, y’all. After I walked back to my cart and regained by composure, I grabbed that package of gum.
As soon as dinner is done tonight, I’ll be popping a piece in my mouth. I don’t know if I’ll still love this gum like I did in high school, but I know I’ll love thinking about my Grandma while I’m chewing it. She loved fiercely, generously and lavishly. She passed that on to my mama. And as I look at that gum, I hope I’ve picked up some of it, too.