We had dinner out tonight, got the boys all bundled up against the biting wind and buckled into the car and drove the 10 minutes to the local Swiss Chalet. I spent the day having ‘Me’ time, went to visit an old friend, got my hair done… we decided dinner out would mean that we wouldn’t need to make dinner and worse, clean up after it. So, to Swissers we went.
We ate our meal, the boys took turns playing and throwing theirs, we talked politics and war, the boys chatted about God knows what. It was a nice evening. As we were finishing up our drinks and waiting for the bill I watched an older man get seated not too far from us.
He had a slight hunch, his clothes were nice, but on the scruffier side, like they had been well worn but of high quality. He took off his coat, laid it down on the chair beside him and sat heavily on the seat beside him. He glanced at me, his old eyes quickly glancing away when they met my look. The wrinkles on his face were weathered and he looked tired, and sad. He unrolled his napkin, placed it on his lap and then slowly methodically laid out his silverware. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
Who was he? How did he come to be alone this Sunday evening? Does he have family? Where are they? All these questions plague me as I continue to watch. He pulls glasses out of his pocket and places them carefully on his face, they quickly slip to his nose and he adjusts his glance accordingly. He folds his hands on the table in front of him and he sighs, staring at his crossed fingers. I will for him to look at me again, I want to smile to this man, to let him into our circle even if only for a moment. He won’t look up. The waitress brings him a chocolate milk and I have to smile. He and Joshua have the same favorites.
I don’t know who this man was, I don’t know what brought him to the restaurant tonight, why he braved the cold alone, I don’t know if he is a kind old gentleman or someone who has a history of abusive behaviour, I only know, that tonight, in this moment I am sad for him. I have a feeling there is a story there, a sad story, and it makes me sorry that I didn’t have a chance to smile, a chance to say hello.
I do realize of course that this man could have been quite happy to be eating out alone tonight, maybe he and his wife don’t agree on his choice of restaurant, maybe he decided that he wanted a Festive Special while watching the Grey Cup, maybe he isn’t married at all but quite happily single, maybe he is starting up a new relationship and is in the exciting throws of new love, maybe he just came from visiting a new Grandchild, or from taking an older Grandchild out for the day… maybe.
Either way, he made me realize the wonders of family, even when it gets hard there is something about a family that sticks and that is comforting on the best of days let alone when times get tough as they inevitably do.