I took Mom to McDonald's today. It is still the place (and the food) that seems to satisfy her. She normally stands with me patiently while I order for her. She will usually interrupt as she points out the display of cookies... "Did you see these? I sure would like one of these!".
Today was different. I don't even know where it went wrong... or why. I have a jumbled memory of a lot of people crowded around us. Of Mom yelling at the girl behind the counter, "I'm not leaving until you give me mine." Of her loudly refusing to sit "there", the same seat she usually prefers. Of her having to be coaxed into allowing me to get her drink at the fountain. Of turning around and her having a panicked look on her face when she couldn't remember where I went. Of her gripping a young lady's arm like it was an anchor in a storm. Of the young lady's look of confusion and fear. Of Mom offering food to a little girl of 4 and me trying to stop her as the girl took it. Of me explaining to the family why their daughter was eating a stranger's food. Of people whispering and sneaking glances at us from various tables. I am used to seeing looks of understanding and sometimes of pity as they look at Mom. But these looks were of disapproval. And they were directed towards me.
And I remember the tears of embarrassment. Those were new. I have never been bothered by people's reaction to our situation. But, this was personal. And it hurt.