I recently had a conversation you usually wouldn't expect to have happen between waitress and her customer. After the common pleasantries were exchanged, it went something like this;
Rich, “So yeah, they want to see me back at the U W six months earlier than planned. I hope it isn't a sign that my tumor is back.”
I knelled down next to the table because the topic just seemed too personal to stand up and listen where others could see me or hear me respond. I really had to work to put on a brave face although the tears were close to spilling. I truly don’t recall exactly what I said but something close to I sure hope his brain tumor is not back and I grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. What words fill in the silence when you are talking about a person’s own sickness and possible death?
At that moment, his co-worker and now driver, Perry piped in and told me that his sister-in-law has leukemia and has been given a year and half, at best to live.
“Wow,” I replied.
“What do you do then, really, what do you do?” I asked.
“I guess that is when you realize it really is all the little things that make life worth living,” I feebly replied.
Talk about feeling somewhat awkward, but at the same time almost privileged. I know these men are not drunk, they are regulars, and they have truly good hearts and souls. Especially Rich, we have always enjoyed talking to one another. There is just a twinkle in his eye and a kindness in his heart.
As my boss put it, “He just looks like a nice guy. The kind of man you want to sit down with and could really talk to.” He nailed it.
This is a man with two grown children, a wife, and a dog. He’s had a long career at Boeing. He can no longer drive himself because ever since the brain tumor appeared he has lost his since of equilibrium. He has the most beautiful huge blue gray eyes surrounded by long thick eyelashes. He is tall and lean, leaner more so now that he has cancer treatment.
The intimate conversation continued.
Rich said, “It’s the little things, and relationships Jamie. It’s what we have with one another. It’s the people we have in our lives. It’s how we treat one another really it all comes down to having each other. Friends, like you Jamie. How you treat us.”
Now the lump in my throat is the size of a giant meatball and I was choked up. But, I knew exactly what he meant. It’s why we like one another, he gets it (what I think life is all about) and I understood him perfectly. All we have is now. All we have is our actions and words. How we treat ourselves. How we treat one another. Taking the time to notice the little things. Colors. Smells. Breezes. Trees. Babies. Sounds. Tastes. Kindness. Generosity.
Truly simple things, that somehow gets lost.
I realize he reminds me of my favorite Uncle. He is the one who passed way too young from pancreatic cancer. They have a similar way.
I’m so glad to have people in my life that I know it’s safe to be real with me. I’m so glad to have people in my life that can accept my candor. He is the only customer I hug, and I don’t care what anyone thinks. They just don’t get it.
An addendum to this post; Rich got good news. He is clear and released from his doc's from the U for the next 2 years! Happy Tears!