Saturday, April 18, 2015

The blessing of a memory

Yesterday William and I celebrated our 16th anniversary with a date day.  We actually did this for the first time 5 or so years ago...and loved it so much that we have been doing it ever since.  We don't usually plan too heavily on the day - but we do kick around ideas.  We always start with breakfast.  Any time we can eat out in public without complete humiliation and embarrassment (i.e. kids), we absolutely do. 

Because the "Bigs" (the older two kids) were out of school, we went ahead and paid to send them to the daycare.  They only go a couple times a year and don't mind going too much.  If nothing else - they love seeing the "Littles" there and brightening their day.  But it freed us up to take one of the few working parent perks out there: 8 hr date day with little extra cost!

It was actually nice having all the kids in one spot.  Makes drop off that much quicker.

We decided to go to Jimmy's Egg for breakfast.  It turns on Fri around 8:00 in the morning is prime time elderly folks time.  The place was full of old people.

We sat down and quickly discussed what to order.  (We tend to order two things and split them at Jimmy's...)  A waitress came by to ask our drinks, and I noticed two people getting up to leave just behind her.  A "younger" man (60s) - was helping an elderly woman (90s) get up to leave.  First he pulled the table away from her a bit then steadied her as she stood.  While she held onto to the table he wrapped a shaw around her shoulders and hair.  Then he placed her purse over her head and helped her arm through the strap.  I was struck by the devotion and love that came from this man as he hepled her.  My guess was the man was her son and he was taking her out so she could be out and about a little. 

I sat there and though about my future and wondered how I'd end up - if my kids would be around to take me to breakfast now and then.

We ordered our breakfast and William and I soon turned the conversation to our daily plans.  The table next to us sat 3 more elderly people.  At one point, the wife of one of them two gentleman started getting on to him.  Apparently they were missing silverware and she asked "DID YOU JUST TAKE HIS [referring to William] SILVERWARE?"  William started laughing and said "The nerve!" and then pointed out the basket full of silverware behind his head.  They all laughed a bit - particularly at the fact she would apparently think her husband would do such a thing.

Back to discussing daily plans, I pulled out my phone and pulled up TripAdvisor to see if there was anything new around town to do.  As I started looking the accused silverware thief from the other table said "Hey! Hey!  Do you know what WPA stands for?" 

Deep in thought trying to get TripAdvisor open, I shook him off.  "No sir I don't."

He waved his hand after me and said "Can't you use THAT THING???"

"OH!" I replied.  "Yeah.  I guess I can do that!"  And William made a joke about having a computer right there in my hand - seems I could give the information to the man.  I opened up Google and typed up "WPA".  "Wireless Protected Access" I said.  I looked over and the 3 of them starred at me.  "Wire-what?"  The accused silverware thief replied, his head crinkled in confusion.

I suddenly realized my audience and repeatedly slowly what I had said...all the while wondering why they cared about such a thing.

They all shook their heads..."No..." he replied.  "This would be from the 1930's..."

"OH!"  I said again.  William is completely laughing at this point.  "Let me look again."  I used my Google prowess to determine they were referring to "Works Progress Administration" - a government organization whose purpose was to put people back to work during the Great Depression.

They all nodded in approval and went back to their conversation.

A few minutes later the silverware theif hopped up from his chair and stood next to our table.  "That organization was important.  I was born in 1931.  My parents had no money and no food.  The WPA put people back to work and handed out these rations that were just God-awful.  But we ate them anyway."

As he talked a lot of thoughts were swimming around in my head.  I thought about people today and their version of destitution.  I'm pretty sure contemporary Americans' version of poor and 1930s version of poor are pretty different.  I wondered if terrible rations were handed out these days - if people would be grateful.

Silverware thief sat back down, still talking.  He mentioned he and his wife had been together for 65 years.  65 folks!  They had been married almost longer than my father had been alive.  William told them today was our 16th - and we both acknowledged it was no where near 65. 

There was more banter and it was pleasant.  I was reminded of my Great Aunt Dot and Uncle Jack.  They reminded me so much of them - except a bit reverse.  My Aunt Dot couldn't hear worth a hoot - but it seemed it was the husband in this dynamic duo who had trouble hearing.  They gave the waitresses a hard time, and in fact one of them sat down at one point at the table to read an article in a paper that he wanted to show her.  It was clear they were regulars...and Jimmy's Egg was for this couple about like Bob Evans was for my Aunt and Uncle.  (They went EVERY DAY.) 

Memories swirled around in my head.  The last time we visited, we had Rebekah.  I was able to sit with my Aunt Dot.  She could never hear me (she was tone deaf - and I spoke entirely too high), so I had been nervous about visiting with them without my parents.  It was one of the best visits I had ever had.  She went on and one about life when she was young.  She told me about some of her and my grandmother's adventures, how she met Jack.  I loved every minute of it.

As we said our goodbye's Aunt Dot quietly pressed money into my hands and hugged me.  I tried to protest, but there was no arguing with her.  "Gas money!" she said.  I had been looking forward to the next time we'd come out and arranging a visit again.  But it wasn't meant to be.  It was the very last time I saw my beloved Aunt Dot.  I hang onto the memory of that visit because really it is all I have of her left.

I told William I wanted to pay for Silverware Theif's breakfast - but they paid for themselves before we could tell a waitress.  I pleaded with William, that they were clearly regulars.  We could probably leave some money with one of the waitresses for them the next time they came in.

As they got up to leave he stopped by.  "Have a good day!" we told him.  "You too!  Happy anniversary.  Oh and - we paid for your meal."

I could just see my Aunt Dot and Uncle Jack standing before me.  I'm not a crier people.  I'm really not.  I don't cry at movies, I didn't even really cry when my children were born.  I didn't cry on my wedding day.  I just don't cry.

Tears slipped down my cheek as they walked off.

When William and I are old and figure out our version of Bob Evans, I hope we can be a blessing as these folks clearly were to those around them.  This encounter truly set the tone for the day - as we ran into many blessings throughout and talked about this all day long.

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