Updated: Jul 26, 2021
Living alone has some perks.
You get to do whatever you want, when you want.
There is no one to tell you they need you home, want you home, etc.
It can feel like freedom.
However, I lost my husband a little over two years ago. Not like lost as in we went to Costco and he disappeared in the frozen foods while I was still in electronics. Lost as in died.
Add the recent news that a dear friend would be entering hospice, and the fact that I was in charge of a group message with as many of the friends as I could manage to remember, so as to keep her from getting inundated with calls and texts and questions when she wanted to keep it a fairly small bubble (her words) of sharing details.....and I found myself deeply in need of human touch and connection.
I decided that I needed and wanted a pedicure. One way to get both.
Toenails glittery, driving back towards home I decided that I would stop at my favorite Poke' shop.
I parked in front and walked up to the door and pulled the handle.
It was closed!
I stared at the sign for the hours for a moment before I saw the "We will be closed this Tuesday" handwritten sign above it.
Ah Well.... I thought and started for my car.
A boy of about 12 was standing on the sidewalk looking bewildered at the 'exit' door of the Qdoba Mexican Restaurant that was next door.
"How do I get into this place?" he asked me.
I said "Oh, down there just a few steps. Here, I'll show you." I said and wielded my cane around to walk towards the entrance.
The thought occurred to me that Mexican might work for my dinner, and decided to enter.
At the moment that the boy and I reached the door, the father arrived. I tried to hold open the door for him...but he insisted on holding it for me. He instructed the son to grab the inside foyer door to allow me to pass.
"That's how you do it." he said to his son.
Once inside, I, not knowing the set up, headed for the front and stared at the menu. Then it hit me. I was not in the line to order, so I hobbled over with my cane and ended up behind the father and son duo.
"We wondered where you went."
"I got turned around."
The woman at the counter where they construct your chosen items in front of you asked, "Are you all together."
"We've been together since we walked in." I quipped, and grinned at the father, who smiled broadly in return.
Shortly it became evident that she had taken me seriously and I said as much to my fellow customer.
"I know." he winked.
He then held out two bags of jalapeño tortilla chips to show me.
"We really like these."
As we were approaching the checkout I had a moment when I realized that I wanted to pay for their meals and also that I was in the wrong place in line to do so as my choice was being completed.
Before I could work it out, the father said to the cashier, "These three."
I quickly protested and tried to hand him money, saying that I had planned to pay for his.
"Next time." he said and pushed the money back at me.
Something stopped me from further insistence. Something that reminded me that this was a kindness extended and that if I were the one giving, I would not want my offer to be rejected.
I thanked him profusely as we walked away from the counter, aware that throughout all that exchange my phone had been vibrating with messages.
"Will you be joining us for our dining experience?" he asked me.
How could I help but laugh?
I explained that my phone had been blowing up (better me than my friend) with messages about my friend entering hospice and declined the offer. (Though I wish now that I had said yes)
"Let me at least get you my card" and he head out.
Standing with his son I introduced myself.
"I'm Matthew." he said and extended his hand.
As the father returned with his card I explained that I had 'met' his son.
"Matthew" I nodded
About that time a woman, perhaps of Pakistani or Indian decent entered with a box of candy she was selling for some cause.
Michael reached for his wallet but quickly realized, "I don't have any cash."
Normally I would have perhaps given her a dollar, but taken no candy, or ignored her with a brush off.
Now I saw an opportunity to pay forward and pulled a ten from my purse.
"Here! It all works out!" and Matthew got to choose something from the box.
We went on our ways.
On the drive home I was struck with two thoughts.
It didn't matter our ages or races or anything else except that we were human beings connecting and being kind and present with each other....and my desire for that had brought me out of my house that day.
And a quote from Hebrews (and you all know I'm not a bibley person but when it fits, it fits):
"Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
- Hebrews 13:2