I thought I was doing a good deed. But they didn’t want any help.
I decided to go for pancakes at McDonalds. Sounds yummy doesn’t it? Well, by the time I mix the batter for one person at home and clean up the mess, it just makes more sense to go out.
I can justify anything.
I usually buy a newspaper, cup of coffee and listen to the old guys talk about life. They gather there daily, always in the same spot, and laugh about the good old days when things were better. Maybe they were. But for me things don’t get much better than this. I love listening to old folks weave their tales. I see them as pioneers. They traveled the road I’m about to take so I listen for warning signs and dangers ahead.
They don’t even know I’m there.
As I got out of my car I could see them in the window. They started without me.
I was just about to enter the restaurant when I saw this couple approaching. They must have been in their seventies. She was thin, nicely dressed and had a beautiful smile. He hobbled along holding on to cars, garbage cans and of course, her. It was obvious he must have had a stroke.
I was in no hurry, so I stopped at the door and held it wide open for them. I thought this generous act of kindness would be welcome.
“No! We go in this door,” the old man grumbled as he gasped for air.
“What, my door isn’t good enough for you?,” I said jokingly.
“No, this is the door I use,” he said.
“I understand. You like when she holds the door open for you,” I replied.
He stopped in his tracks and grabbed onto the window. He felt obligated to explain and I was beginning to feel badly as I watched him struggle with his explanation.
I found out that the opposite door swings open so he can hold on to the bar and the nearby garbage can. He does it so he doesn’t have to use his cane.
His wife stood there smiling a gracious, warm smile. In reality she was his cane. Perhaps, as men will be, he was too proud to depend on a cane, but found no disgrace in leaning on her.
I headed over to the counter to think about what I really wanted for breakfast while they walked to their seats.
I settled for the pancakes, coffee and yes, the local paper. It turns out the only seats available were directly across from the couple. As I settled in, I heard her say, “Should we get the usual, Honey?”
“Yes, my love. The usual is just perfect as along as I’m with you,” he said slowly and distinctly.
She kissed him on the forehead and walked away.
He caught me listening in. Well, I was staring right at them. The “love talk” caught my attention. I’m an old romantic and moments like that are usually played out on a big screen. But this couple was not only in love, they were love in it’s purest sense.
“I don’t know what I’d do without her,” he said as he turned toward me.
“You depend on her,” I said.
“I live for her. I need her,” he said as he struggled with his breathing.
“She has an incredible smile. It comes from loving you so intensely. I can see it in her gentle ways. She didn’t just leave you there, she placed you there with care and compassion,” I told him.
“We don’t have a lot of time left together,” he said. “So we don’t just live our days…” He paused as he jolted back raising his head as if in pain.
“We don’t just live our days. We consume them like a banquet,” he said.
“You seem to be in much pain. Yet, here you are out and about. Most people would succumb to these challenges. What’s your secret?” I asked.
He shook his head and although the stroke had distorted his otherwise handsome face, smiled and in a whisper said, “Did you see her eyes? When we go to bed at night, she kisses me and says ‘I’ll love you forever.’ I see tomorrow in her eyes. It’s all that it takes to go on.”
She returned then, still with her perpetual smile. She placed his coffee and muffin in front of him. Then tucked a napkin under his chin. He grabbed her hand and turned to me.
“Look. Can you see it?” He said. I was a bit uncomfortable.
“Her eyes tell me that everything is beautiful. I have nothing to fear. She is my angel sent by God.”
I smiled and finished my meal. As I stood up to leave I he said, “I hope you have a great day.”
I leaned over and looked into her eyes and said, “Tomorrow looks beautiful, too.”
Bob Perks [email protected]