Several years ago, when we were still living in California, I took my wife and our two children to a bookstore one day, not that the kids were interested in books.
But at the back of the store, they served ice cream and delicious snacks, giving the boys a reason to favor the store. We all sat at a table inside, and I ordered an ice cream for everyone. The store had a hometown, family atmosphere.
While we were sitting there, an old lady (I guess she was over 80 years old) came over to our table. He had gray hair and wasn’t very steady on his feet. She smiled at us.
I’m sure he wasn’t working there because he still had his raincoat on. But I wouldn’t have been surprised if he did.
The number of seniors working for this company was remarkable. When we had come here in the past, our boys would ask, “Why does grandma work?”
After finishing the ice cream and snacks, my wife went with the boys to search the shelves. Moments later, the lady came over, sighed and sat down across from me. “Good morning how are you?” I asked She didn’t really answer.
I felt that I was no longer here and now. At a certain point, he looked up and his eyes began to glow. He happily greeted someone.
“Oh look, there’s my husband!” he said cheerfully, as if pleasantly surprised. For a moment she looked like a teenage girl going out for the first time.
I looked behind me and saw an older man approaching. He greeted me and gently asked the lady to accompany him. “Come on, beautiful. Let’s stay there,” he told her, pointing to another table.
Then he came back and said: “I’m sorry. My wife has Alzheimer’s.” It almost brought me to tears.
I sat there and watched them as I ordered drinks and carefully divided a cupcake between the two of them. Maybe, I thought, they do this every week. Maybe they have kids. Maybe he was staring at us because he suddenly remembered what life was like.
I didn’t want to upset them, but I also felt the need to express my feelings somehow. So I bought some cookies and went to their table and then told them that I wanted to share these cookies.
But at that moment I couldn’t find the right words. In fact, no words could express what he really meant.
The visit to the bookstore made me reflect on the circle of life, on family and how lucky I am to have something that makes family and health an enviable reality.
Oh, how lucky I am.
Tony Antonides lives in Central Point.