So – I am still in Phoenix and truly loving having this time away with God and my man. I’m bursting with things that I’m learning/that God is showing me and reading and writing a lot. I’ve stuck to a strict “no TV during the day” policy and I’ve been shocked how quickly the days go when I’m totally quiet! I’m also doing some things that I’ve NEVER done before – eating different places, stepping in to a conflict in the hotel pool (documented that story on facebook, if you care to hear more), first visit to “Trader Joe’s” and FIRST TIME EVER THAT I HAVE BEEN TO A RESTAURANT AND EATEN ALONE!”
While the last “first” might not be a big deal to you – it was to ME. I’ve grown up believing that eating out is a “treat” and even though we do it way more than I ever did as a child, it’s ingrained in me that it’s “special”. So – I guess that’s why I’ve never done it alone…if I’m out and hungry, I wait till I get home or run through a drive-through and eat on my way. It’s never appealed or made any sort of sense to me to pay restaurant prices to sit by myself. It also goes to a weird side of my “people personality” that I feel bad for those that I see doing it. I’ve often told my own father, “Please don’t go to the movies alone…cause people like me spend the entire 2 hours feeling bad that you are alone and/or have no one in your life to share it with!”. I know…I’m crazy…but it’s just how I think.
So – Wednesday/yesterday was THE day that I was going to conquer the “I don’t see the point in eating alone” thought. I entered Cracker Barrel (the only restaurant within walking distance) and GULPED as I said, “Just for ONE, please”. Ugh.
I was seated (did I mention – BY MYSELF!) and purposefully positioned myself to see people come in – just to have some human interaction! After ordering, an elderly couple shuffled in – he was pushing his wife in a wheelchair and I was immediately struck at how tenderly he positioned her at the table and then bent to put on her “brake”. Instead of sitting across the table from her, he chose to sit next to her and sweetly asked her what she would like to drink/eat. I, obviously, don’t know her medical condition (and “shocker” – no, I didn’t go up and ask!) but it appeared that she was mentally OK but couldn’t really speak. She pointed to selections and he patiently asked questions and she nodded.
I was trying not to appear “stalker-ish” (although – YES…that’s their picture at the top!!) but could barely take my eyes off of them as he spoke tenderly and even his interaction with the waitress was precious and kind. When their food arrived, he took her plate and cut up everything in to little bite-size pieces and then helped her get her fork and tucked her napkin in her other hand. Only then did he focus on himself and getting his food ready. During the meal he would ask her “yes” and “no” questions and she would nod or shake her head. With her limited ability to answer – they “talked”/communicated the ENTIRE MEAL.
I couldn’t figure out why this was so touching to me but, as I stood to leave I just had this overwhelming urge to let them know. I wasn’t sure how to do that so I paid my bill and then the “pay THEIR bill and write a note” thought popped into my head. At first I argued, thinking, “I don’t want to embarrass them and they totally appear able to pay their own check!” (in fact, that was another thing that touched me – she looked beautifully put together in a pretty skirt and sweater set -which I’m assuming he helped her with). Still – the thought remained. So – I went back in and asked for their waitress and told her that I didn’t want her to say anything to them but I wanted to pay their check and then asked for a piece of paper to write them a note. The waitress looked surprised and said, “I don’t know how to do this so, I’m going to get the manager” (??)…but as she left, I wrote a simple note to thank them for the gift of watching them interact with each other – that I witnessed true love and devotion in action and was so thankful for the example/encouragement it was to me.
The funny part of this story is that as I wrote I was flooded with tears (more on the “why” behind that in a minute). I was standing at the hostess station writing and tears are rolling down one cheek. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a different hostess walk up and quickly offered me a napkin…and then, in a THICK Asian accent said, “Oh no lady – you ok? Your meal no good today? I sooooo sorry!” I said, “Oh no, the food was great..no problem!” but she would NOT let it go and got louder and louder with her questions…”Please, sweet lady – I help you. What’s your problem? Why you crying today? Someone here not nice to you…you want to speak with the boss?”. At this point I’m embarrassed (people are looking)…and laughing…and still crying! I couldn’t get out of there soon enough and wondered why, of all days, I didn’t have my sunglasses handy!
The “Why?” behind the tears? I didn’t figure it out till later (when I was processing walking home) but – two reasons:
First: Yesterday was also the first time I have been away (not there/with them) while me dad was having surgery. It was suppose to be a “simple, no big deal” kind of thing but when I spoke to my mom in the morning, I could tell she was nervous – which made me feel anxious about not being there. The couple reminded me of my parents and my prayers for them that morning. It also made me thankful for the awesome ways my mom has always cared for my dad – during hospital times as well as “daily life”.
And second: As I watched this couple, I couldn’t help but think of how I serve MY spouse. I was convicted thinking/wondering about how I look at Tom and if others see devotion and love (and more importantly – does he?) and my willingness to focus on him and show my devotion by serving him well. I walked out of Cracker Barrel (which, by the way, I believe was my SECOND visit ever!) wanting so badly to BE this couple…knowing that whatever is to come we would be a team and devoted to serve the other. BIG GOAL…thankfully we have chosen not to try it alone (“I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me!”)
By the way – please don’t think “well” of ME for buying their meal…it was GOD’S idea/prompting – not mine. I pray that the gesture was a blessing and encouragement to them but – truly – it was the best $20.00 I’ve spent lately.
And, truth be told…while my husband is GREAT at doing things like that, “picking up a check in a restaurant for a stranger” was another FIRST for me. Just sayin.