For starters, she called it The Kmark. She worked there for thirty years and she still thought there was a 'k' at the end and she always put a 'the' in front of it. She partly worked there to supplement the farm, especially during the off-season for crops. But also, she just really enjoyed getting out of the house, to have somewhere to go every day.
I remember a few things about her time working at The Kmark. For one, I remember sometimes she'd be working inventory and we'd have to go all the way to the back of the store, to the storage area, through two huge grey swinging doors, into a room of trolley carts, boxes and an open delivery bay. "Grandma, Grandma," we'd holler, until she popped out from behind one of the stacks of boxes. It felt like going into a secret, private club, walking through those swinging doors.
Other times we'd have to have her paged over the intercom and inevitably one of her co-workers would come on and say, "Aaaaaaavvvvvaaa, your grandkids are heeeeeere," and, of course, everyone in the store would erupt with laughter.
Grandma likes to tell the story of once my little brother and my mom stopped off there and Mom suggested they all sit for lunch at the little serve-yourself cafe in the middle of the store - (back in a time when Kmart was doing well enough they found the need to offer their patrons a salad bar). But Grandma said she'd taken her break already and my little brother, all of six years old, looked up at her and said, "Now, Grandma, surely you have time for lunch." He had to have been repeating something he'd heard an adult say, but I can just picture it coming out of his precarious mouth.
You could always count on Grandma to have quarters in her pocket for the little candy machines or the automated horsey rides at the front of the store. And if you were so lucky to be the only grandkid visiting her that day, there was usually a dollar or two in her pockets for one of the cheap little checkout lane toys that sit there waiting to entice restless children.
She retired around 70, at much poking and prodding from her husband and sons, worried about the nighttime drives and winter roads, but she lamented her working days as sorely missed for years afterwards. I, for one, missed surprising her at work and hearing her paged over the intercom and waiting eagerly for quarters to appear from her, surely, magical pockets.
Happy birthday, Grandma! Here's to the next year of your life being as exciting and amazing as all the rest!