I was out to dinner the other night, and the restaurant was starting to fill up. Instead of our usual “Seniors Early Bird” meal time, we were actually there for the dinner hour. Our hostess seated us next to a table with three people. Good deal: all of them over 8 years old. I love children, but the stares I get with the beard are sometimes distracting to everyone during the meal. Adults rock when I’m out incognito.
Ten minutes into our stay, adults weren’t so cool. The man at the table next to us was pretty loud. That’s really saying something when I have left the hearing aids at home. I tried to tune him out, but he was pretty constant in his chatter. He was regaling his table with childhood memories of the restaurant and the times they’d had.
I gave up politely ignoring him, and caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye: He was in love. He had that glow of affection all over his face, and the target of his attention was an elderly woman who looked a lot like him.
Being a snoop, I now tuned in and watched him surreptitiously. I had to figure out what was going on here and see if it made sense. It did make sense. And it broke my heart with joy that such a good man would share his evening with me in this restaurant.
You see, the woman was his mother. And she had obviously been afflicted with a stroke or some other disablement that required the use of the walker leaning against the table. She was trying to speak back, but couldn’t muster any words from what I could see.
He was in love with his mom. He was sharing old times with her, and carrying the conversation by himself, because she had lost her ability to speak.
I’m a judgmental jerk on occasion. I’m glad I violated social protocols and listened in on this man. He was someone I could appreciate: He carried his heart on his sleeve.
We’re all getting older. Infirmity comes knocking without warning. I hope that when, not if, I start to lose my faculties some young pup takes the time to take me out for dinner and make sure I’m comfortable. It’s not the price of the meal, but the time that you give others that makes you a great man.
Sir, I don’t know your name, but you will be in my prayers tonight. Thank you for honoring your mother.
Since my mom reads this train wreck: Mom, I’ll take you out to dinner anywhere, anytime. I love you. (But if it’s Waffle House, I may go twice!)
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