The Paper Towels


The old man was gone now.  But, he left behind a mystery.  When they cleaned out his house there was a closet-full of paper towels.

 Why would one old man need all those paper towels?

 It really wasn’t a mystery to those who knew him. 

He liked to go to the grocery and just slowly push a cart up and down the isles … browsing, exchanging greetings with other customers and chatting with employees, who all recognized him as a “regular.”

 And if he didn’t need anything, he certainly didn’t feel right not buying something, so he would buy a roll of paper towels.

 The cost of a roll of paper towels … a cheap price to pay for some greetings, shared smiles and a few chats, for an old man who was a little less lonely each time he came home with another roll of paper towels.

Based on a friend’s story about her father.


6 Responses to The Paper Towels

  1. What a sweet story! And a great reminder not to be in too much of a hurry at the grocery store. There may be someone there, wandering the aisles, just looking for some friendly conversation 🙂

  2. Sandra says:

    Lynn — I thought of that too. And I DO tend to make eye contact with people in the store and say “Hi” so I hope maybe I am adding to some of their days.

    I guess it’s the lot of a blogger than when you’re having dinner with another couple and she mentions paper towels her dad had when he died, I immediately thought “blog post”! She gave me very few details, it was just an offhanded comment, so I had to kind of imagine how the story would go. But, I was pleased with how it came out.

    Isn’t blogging fun?!

  3. Dina says:

    This story reminded me of when we moved my grandmother from her assisted living quarters to a nursing home. We found boxes of Cheerios everywhere – closets, cabinets, drawers, etc. She did eat Cheerios once in awhile, but she had more boxes than she would have ever been able to eat on her own. At the time of her move, she wasn’t of the mental capacity to ask her why she had so many. We came to the conclusion that she probably kept so many extra, because of my dad. Cheerios was the only cereal he would eat and he ate it quite frequently. My grandma lived a couple of hours away from my parents, so my dad usually couldn’t see my grandma more than a few times a month, but I suppose she always wanted to make sure she had Cheerios to offer him. The sheer volume of Cheerios was funny, but the sentiment was very sweet.

  4. Sandra says:

    Dina — I think this may be an “old people’s” trait. When we moved my mom out of her house into assisted living, she had ten tubes of toothpaste under the sink in the bathroom. Although, in her case, I think her hoarding tendency probably stemmed from having been verrrry poor when she was growing up.

  5. It really doesn’t matter what was in his closet (may it be all those rolls of paper towels or a single reusable absorbent towel). The point is that when we were young, the generation before us took care of us and nurtured us until it was time for us to “leave the coup.” We should be repaying them back by having them spend their twilight years with family. On that note, I would gladly have either of my parents (or both)come stay with me over assisted living.

  6. Sandra says:

    AT — Hubby’s Grandmother lived with them until she died when Hubby was 17 years old. Through his experiences and memories I have come to appreciate what a plus it can be to grow up in a multi-generational family. I hear that the recession may cause some families to do this again — my guess is that wouldn’t be all bad!

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