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The wait became an investment in understanding

HAMPTON, Minn. — I didn’t think it would take nearly a half hour to buy a few packages of meat Tuesday afternoon.

In the end, I didn’t mind.

Here’s what happened:

On a return drive from the Twin Cities, I stopped at Greg’s Meats, as I often do when my drive takes me through Hampton during the establishment’s hours of business.

I entered the store and while hovering over the sausage section I was vaguely aware of some activity in the far corner of the store.

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Then a man said, "OK, everybody as quiet as possible now, for five or 10 minutes."

There was also another man, a woman and a video camera. And in front of the camera, another man and woman.

The latter two began to speak as the camera rolled.

"Hi, I’m Mary Duchscherer."

"Hi, I’m Greg Endres, owner and operator of Greg’s Meats here in Hampton."

Oh, filming a commercial, I thought.

Wrong.

The two began speaking from the heart about their mother.

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She has Alzheimer’s disease, as did two of her sisters. One is in the late stages of the disease, the other’s battle has ended.

This strong, able woman — mother of 11 — is now physically diminished and mentally fluctuates. One day she can remember something that happened decades ago; the next day, she doesn’t remember her daughter.

One day, Mary said, her mother was thanking her for being such a good friend, not realizing Mary’s relationship to her.

"I just knew somehow the first time I saw you that I liked you and we’d be friends," the mother said.

"I knew I liked you the first time I saw you," Mary replied.

Forget the wait, I didn’t expect walking into the meat store that I would fight back tears before I walked out.

Greg and Mary went on, only a bit sadly but mostly matter-of-factly. It’s hard for them, it’s hard for their mother. For her sake, they wish she could be free of Alzheimer’s.

Finally the camera stopped. The director said he needed a few non-speaking shots and that in a minute, customers could go about their business.

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I picked up the items I had planned to buy and took them to the checkout. I asked the clerk what this was about.

"HBO," she said. "A documentary on the effects of Alzheimer’s on families."

Just then another employee approached, a package of bratwurst in hand.

"Greg wants all the customers here to have these because they waited so long," she said.

Very thoughtful. But I didn’t really mind.

Greg Sellnow is on vacation this week.

Craig Swalboski is sports editor for the Post-Bulletin. He can be contacted at swalbo@postbulletin.com.

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