Miss Mona left the Bethany Assisted Living facility to do some shopping with her daughter Linda today.

Miss Mona was born in 1929.

The first thing she did was return some items to a major retail store. It took eight minutes to cross the parking lot.

When they arrived at the return desk, two high-school employees were busy filming a TikTok dance video on their phones. They didn’t expect customers. They asked Miss Mona to hold on until they finished.

Miss Mona happily sat and waited as they danced.

“I loved dancing when I was their age,” the elderly woman said, “the dancing we did was at the USOs. I was 16 years old and we couldn’t get nylons because nylon shortages during the War. So we girls used ink pens to draw lines up our legs, that way it looked like we were wearing nylons.”

The employees gave her store credit. Miss Mona browsed the store. Her quad walking cane squeaked on the linoleum.

They passed the electronics department. Hundred-inch TV screens blaring in full HD. Macintosh laptops, Ring security cameras, tablets, Rokus, iPhone 15 series. The world has come a long way.

“I remember when we got our first radio,” she said. “I remember our first TV, I was a senior in high school. Milton Berel was on TV. I think he’s dead now.”

They left the store and went somewhere for lunch. Miss Mona ordered a hamburger. She was surprised when her food came.

“When did hamburgers get so big?” she said with a cheery laugh.

Americans just eat more than we used to. Since the 1950s, American restaurant portions have increased by nearly 82 percent.

“Well, good for us,” said Mother Time, picking at her fries with brown flecked hands.

“When I was a girl we didn’t never have enough to eat. Mama said I was so skinny I could dodge raindrops.”

Miss Mona saw a lot of young people in the restaurant. It was a typical Saturday. The young people were hanging out. Sporting new fashions.

Except, something was wrong, Miss Mona noticed.

“Why aren’t those kids talking to each other? Why are all their heads down?”

“They’re playing on their phones,” said Mona’s daughter.

“But who could they be calling?”

“They’re probably talking with their friends on social media.”

“They’re friends? But they’re all here together, in one place.”

“Kids today do that,” said her daughter.

Out in the parking lot were electric cars. Miss Mona saw them. The doors of the Tesla X were Falcon Wing doors, which open upward like an Arthur C. Clarke novel.

“What kind of car is that?” said Miss Mona.

“It’s an electric car, Mama.”

“I remember our first car,” said Miss Mona. “Daddy brought it home and we were so thrilled that we went for a long drive into the country.

“Daddy said he felt like a rich man, driving a car all his own. Daddy grew up a sharecropper. He never had enough food to eat. He had to steal chickens just to keep his brother and sister fed.

“That night we first got the car, Mama, Daddy, and us kids slept in the car, Daddy was that excited. He cried and told Mama that he felt guilty buying it when so many people had nothing.”

“The world sure had changed, hasn’t it, Mama?” said her daughter.

The old woman patted her daughter’s hand. “The world, yes. But people are still just as beautiful as they’ve ever been, sweetheart.”

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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