Every new chapter in my life starts like the Big Bang Theory. A world of complacency, then this huge burst of energy, which sparks a new sense of intense wonder, emotion and even joy.
A few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store looking for my Gluten-Free food, when this older man with an unkept white beard, wrinkled kacki pants, and buttoned down shirt frantically just started talking to me. URGH! At that specified time, I was so not in the mood to converse with anyone, I did not have any make-up on, my hair was in a ponytail, lounge wear was the choice of apparel, I just wanted to go in and get out. I pretended I did not hear him as I continued to walk on by.
But then, the older man grabbed my arm and looked like he was getting upset and frustrated. He stated, as he looked at me, “my wife always got the groceries. If I had to go, she would always tell me where it was located and exactly what to look for.” He then started to cry.
I asked him what he was looking for and he cried even more...YIKES! What did I say?
He started to tell me how he and his wife were married for over 52 years and he does not know what to do without her. I asked him how long ago did she pass away? He replied, “5 years.”
I was thinking...5 years?... How long is this guy going to grieve? Why am I the person dealing with this guy? All I wanted to do was get some food and then go back home.
Taking a breathe, I surrendered and realized I was here to help him for a reason. The more I was by him, I began to feel his immense sense of lose radiate through my body. I did not ask him anymore questions, I just listened to him talk and we walked through the aisles to gather our belongings.
During our shopping adventure, he told me how he was retired from the Navy. He joined because he felt a sense of duty to his country as a result of Pearl Harbor and World War II. It was during one of his tours he met his wife. His wife was an assistant for a travel agency. When he was not busy with military operations he would go in to her agency and continuously ask about different destinations of travel. He found out through one of their conversations that she was engaged to be married to a very successful local businessman. His heart broke when he found out, but then he thought... “she is not married yet.” He mustered up tons of courage because he did not have the money stature of her fiance, all he had was his deep fondness of her. With joy written all over his face, he stated she broke off her engagement to the businessman and said yes to him. He stated the key ingredients to their marriage was him paying attention to the little details in her life and his persistence of showing his affection towards her. Whatever he did to show his love to her, he received it 10 times more from her.
They were never blessed with children, but the two of them were a complete family. He smiled, “ We did everything together, We never tired of one another’s company.” Sorrow came over his face as he was brought back to his current reality.
All he had was his wife, and he was now in a world completely foreign to him. It took over 50 years for him to grow more in love with her, it may take that long to learn to live without her.
He was a perfect gentleman. He let me pay for my groceries first, walked me out to my car, put the groceries in my car, then embraced me before we departed.
On the drive home I was thinking about this man, the story he told me, the loving relationship many of us crave for, yet I did not even get his name.
I never got the man’s name because I never stopped to help him out. We never had a conversation. He never reached out and grabbed my arm. I was too involved in my own world. I felt such guilt and thought what if I did not pass by him in the grocery store, what was his story? I noticed he wore a retired Navy hat and now I was thirsty to know what this man was about. The story of this man is my own creation of who he was to me, but who was he really? He could have been my own Forrest Gump. Instead of a bus stop bench, I had the grocery store.
BANG....a surge of energy rushed through me...I want to know each person’s unique story? What makes them who they are? How connected are we with each other?
I have begun an adventure to find the true essence of a person’s story and I invite you to take this journey with me.
Have you ever had a Forrest Gump type of situation where you did not want to be bothered with anything or anyone, yet when you did it was the most rewarding experience?