“It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.” I read those words in my manuscript, then wrote them for myself. I’m sitting here at my Friday work spot and see two elderly ladies having lunch with a younger one at the table next to mine. The young woman makes sure they’re well taken care of, placing their orders, getting napkins, grabbing their food from the counter.
These two have no idea how much they are making me miss my mother. Neither of them looks like she did, but they still remind me of her. An empty chair sits undisturbed at the table. I imagine my mother sitting there with them. Oh, how she loved to go out to lunch with her friends. It was one of her favorite things to do. She would plan her outfits well in advance and look so forward to the day. These two ladies in their fashionable togs have likely done the same thing. It doesn’t matter that the temperature will reach the low 90s today; their sweater sets and socks defy the August heat.
The silver-haired beauty leans over to whisper to the redhead. I think she senses my constant looking over there. I imagine the redhead hasn’t yet embraced the fact that she’s in her late 70s and has gone gray. I’ll probably be the same way when I’m her age.
The young woman takes their empty cups and tosses them away, saving the ladies a few steps. They’re happy. They’re smiling. They’re enjoying the young one’s company. She’s making them feel young and loved. They’re bringing tears to my eyes. I quietly thank them from ten feet away for making me think of my sweet Mama today and bringing her up close to my heart.
Oh dear, the redhead drops her napkin. My heart leaps as I almost jump out of my seat to go get it for her. She quite capably leans to her side to retrieve it herself.
I hear the young woman say she will go get the car and pull it around front for them. Two chairs now sit unoccupied. Oh no, don’t do it, DJ. Don’t get up. Leave them alone. Wait, oh, I feel myself being pulled over there without any chance of putting on the brakes. Here I go…
Okay, I did it. I went to speak to them, but I could hardly talk intelligibly. Overcome with emotion, I cried like a baby as I stumbled over getting the words out. At first I thought I might be scaring them to death, but almost immediately they both reached out and took my hands. The silver haired Betty, and the redhead Lucy. How appropriate. I love Lucy.
A few minutes later, I’m back in my chair and see the young woman has arrived back to get them. The incident is punctuated with the fact that Lucy walks humped over exactly the way my tiny, little mother did. She looks just like Mama walking away.
God, thank you for this brief encounter, these cleansing tears, and the beauty of strangers who reached out to me. Please overlook the mascara running down my cheeks.