Now I remember…

cart2This is where you return your carts in the grocery store parking lot.  I know you know this spot.  Nearly Every parking lot with a retailer that offers carts has several of these located throughout their lots.  It is a corral.  Rustle up the loose carts. Easily accessible to every shopper. Purposed to make cart return easier.  Centralized locations to leave the now unwanted cart for employees whose job it is to round up and return carts to the store for re-use by other patrons.  In addition to ease of return, there are other reasons for the cart corral.

cartThis is an abandoned cart, left to roam the asphalt.  Emptied after store use by a former patron, and abandoned in the middle of the parking lot.  Free to roam.  One of those pesky free range carts waiting to break away when the winds increase or gravity and incline take them on an unguided journey.  Perhaps a joy ride into the sides of parked cars.  These carts are waiting to smash your car when you least expect it.  Trading paint like NASCAR drivers on a small oval track.  They are thoughtless in their pursuit of the rear panel ding and dent on someone’s otherwise unmarked and unmarred car.

For years I was a practitioner of this method of selfish buggy disposal.  I would leave them in front of my car, between two cars, like that would be the acceptable thing to do.  After all, I did not leave it in the middle of the traffic pattern.  Very thoughtful on my part.

Carts remind me of my wife Michelle.

REMEMBRANCE:  “And he (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:19

Remembrance is pretty darn important.  I  remember my trophies and grades and anniversaries and birthdays.  I remember smells that remind me of events long past.

But to create a special ritual.  To build a habit because I want to remember.  Like communion in the church. Well then that ritual act places the remembrance in the forefront of all I do, whenever the ritual is performed or repeated.  I have one friend who goes and buys bags of special chocolates to hand out on her Father’s birthday, because it is what he would do were he still alive to do it.  It is different than candy on Halloween or Valentine’s day.

I forget way too much important stuff.  Michelle often called Shelly,  my wife, well sadly I don’t remember enough.  We had a rough marriage.  So many struggles.  A brilliant woman, an attorney, and a woman who fell victim to Bipolar disease.  I must tell you, until I married into it,  I thought Bipolar was a made up disease.  Seriously Michelle, “get over it.”  I am sorry Michelle.   I was so very wrong.

Michelle would self medicate.  That is the catch phrase for drink until there was NO pain.  Because drinking felt better to her brain than the medications she was perscribed.  And she was incredible at hiding her addiction.  She would consume vodka all day, pass out and then drink again upon awaking.  She could function upright with a BAC (blood alcohol count) well above the legal limit.  Thinking clearly, making good decisions, that was another story, particularly as she aged.

Sometimes I would lose her for hours, finding her at least 5 times in hospitals or jails.  Because of this reality, she could no longer drive, she could not practice law, she could not hold any job. She was rarely ever sober when we were in public.  Hell she was rarely sober at her morning AA meeting.

But Bipolar folks, as it is written in the symptoms guide,  love to shop in their mania.  Another form of self medication.  And so shop we would.  And Shelly would shop like there may never be another open store  when she was manic.  Everything looks like a bargain.  And for Shelly, The Dollar Store looked like the promised land.  And a cart could be filled for $30.  That was a good thing, it could have been a Neiman Marcus store.

Now I hated shopping, still do.  And I was, as I have already stated, the selfish shopper.  I was the guy who would visit the grocery store, take a cart, fill it, empty it by my car, and leave the cart in the front of my parking space.  Don’t let that cart hit you in the door when I back out and leave.

Michelle, was thoughtful.  Always thoughtful.  Drunk and thoughtful. She would drive me nuts.  Michelle would actually take all of  an extra 30 seconds to return a cart to the store or the cart corral.  It would make the very selfish me, mad.  Someone else has a job getting those things.  Damn it Shelly, I am in a hurry.  Just leave the cart.  And yes, I was a jerk.  She always returned the carts… regardless of my reaction.

And then Shelly went missing again.  We had our issues, but I had no idea that she would leave that day.  In November, 2009, I left our house to go to work.  Michelle had just drawn a tub.  Shelly loved to soak.  She was excited to try the new Jacuzzi jets I had just purchased for her the night before.  She was so cute surrounded by bubbles.  The Jacuzzi jets enriched the bubbles to a whole new, never before seen in the Fulton household,  volume and level.  Truly movie star quality bubbles.


The Jacuzzi was still running when I entered the darkened house at 6 pm….  It should not have been dark in the house when I returned from work.  There was a motor running in the darkness.. the jacuzzi should not have been running.   I feared and sensed the worst. Our dogs, Tank, Niles, and Charlie greeted me.  Michelle did not.  I called her name.  There was no response.  There would never again be a response.  Shelly had passed out sometime that morning while in the tub.  Soaking and medicating.   Michelle drowned in our home.

I still hate to shop.  I shop infrequently, and I shop alone.  But when I fill a cart and take a trip to the car with my bounty,  I always return the cart to the assigned area.  ALWAYS.


This I do in remembrance of Michelle Diane Perry Fulton.  1/1/1965-9/5/2009  It is what I must do.  For the value of the ritual is in the remembrance.  I love you Shelly.

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