When I moved here, I felt the loss of my dear grocery store, but I had Joseph’s. Through the years I shopped there regularly. When I need to make a Serbian dish, I could go there and know they would have the ingredients that a “regular” grocer would not carry. The store allowed a person to explore a variety of different ethnic cuisines. If you were adventurous, you could begin your culinary journey at Joseph’s.
Then, about two weeks ago, I walked into Joseph’s. I noticed many shelves were empty. I could not purchase any canned tomatoes and the pasta isle looked like locusts had descended. I found what I needed, and then I went to check out only to find one checkout lane open. I had been there a just few days before. I had chatted with a butcher who told me a product I was interested in would always be in stock. It was not like I had been away for weeks. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. I went home and check out the Facebook page, rumors were swirling about its closing. I went into denial. It took me a week to get up enough nerve to ask someone at the store about the rumor. Then the news hit the papers. I spent time purchasing food that I could freeze or store. I bounced around denial, anger and bargaining for more than a week.
Why would a store closing cause such a disruption? I have been through stores closing before. While that is often a sad time, I am not usually disturbed by it. Then it hit me. I am responsible for making sure family recipes remain part of the family. I am the one left standing who plans the feasts and prepares the food to create and maintain family tradition. Because of the family I married into, there are important ethnic recipes that I make. These often have components that the mainstream North American grocery store would not carry. I loved having a local store where I could go and get these so that I could keep the Serbian flavour in the family. The other aspect of the loss has to do with losing my father. Going there would remind me of him. I miss him. Losing this store reminds me keenly of the loss of my father. The closing reminds me of how much I have already lost, and how I have tried to maintain connection to those I love.
This week, I have decided that since Joseph’s is breaking up with me, I need to see other stores. I am currently on the lookout for a new ethnic store. I have already looked about a bit, and I am planning in the next few weeks to check out more stores. I have come to accept the reality of my present circumstances and am moving forward. I will broaden my horizons and maybe I can find an even better shop that will meet my needs. Maybe I will take my friend up on teaching me how to ferment my own cabbage leaves. We will see. Sometimes it takes a while to sort through feelings before reaching acceptance. I have to say, I like living in acceptance more that the grief process, but the process often teaches me things I would not otherwise have seen or known. I will miss the convenience of Joseph’s and the memories I have of shopping there with Dad.