Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Hoarder's House.

Last year, we bought a house. The man had died, and the house went to his wife. They were separated but not divorced. She was very ill herself and did not survive him for long. Her children did not like the man at all, and they did not want his house. We bought it, chock a block full of contents.

He was a hoarder. There were piles and piles of boxes. One box contained nothing but cigarette coupons. Another box had newspapers. There was a huge garbage bag full of nothing but salt and pepper shakers, still full, as if he and his wife had swiped the shakers from every restaurant that they'd ever gone to. There's a lot of kitchen appliances, still in their unopened boxes. Dishes galore, sheet music dating back to the early 1900s. Crazy, crazy amounts of stuff to be gone through. 3 generations of cancelled checks. Stuff like that.

Something that always made me feel badly was that these folks had tons of family pictures. They were everywhere, Formal portraits, family snapshots, letters, post cards home, all sorts of ephemera. And every time I got there to go through stuff, I'd think "I wish that I knew the family. Surely this would mean something to someone..."

I knew that he and his first wife had divorced and she took the kids and moved to California. I knew that he and his second wife married late in life and had no children. I knew that he and his third wife were married for a relatively short time, and her children wanted nothing to do with him at all.

A young girl at work was moving into her own place and I offered her the chance to go through the appliances and dishes and see if there was anything that she could use. While I was waiting, I went through the music cabinet. It is a piece that I intend to keep for myself. Going through the sheet music, I found some little slips of paper, entry blanks for a long ago Easter contest at a local store. one of those guess-how-many-beans-are-in-this-jar games. I looked at the childish handwriting and stopped cold in my tracks. I thought I recognized the name.

I called a mutual friend and asked if Ed R.'s first name was 'Edwin', and surprised, she said that it was. "Why?" she asked.

I couldn't believe, after all this time, that the answer was right there in front of me.

I told Mary about the Wayne St, house, about all the pictures, and slides, and even home movies. "Do you think he'd be interested?" I asked.

And she said, "Oh my gosh, I know that he would. I'm going to call them right now."

Just that quick, my phone was ringing back. It was Ed, and he was flabbergasted. They remembered the pictures. Betty, the second wife was his aunt. He and his family had even lived with them for a bit when they moved back from Florida. They were very close to their aunt, and when she died, they asked for her family pictures. The old man had told them that they couldn't have them, that they'd been thrown out.

I told Ed that they weren't, that there were boxes and boxes of them. I told him that he was welcome to them. He was very excited. He does genealogy and they had precious little information on his mother's side of the family. He was speechless when I told him about the suitcase in the attic filled with photos from the 1800s, tintypes, post cards home from WWI. (ONE!) even a very creepy Victorian death photo.

We met at the house tonight. His sister drove an hour to be here too. They went through pictures identifying people. They found momentos from long ago weddings. The sister found the baby announcement from when her daughter was born.  And there were tears, and laughter, and a family reminiscing. "This was where I slept!" and "Remember that we sat in this very chair and untangled Aunt Betty's necklaces?"

The old movies? They took them all and the projector and the movie screens too. The slides? They took them, and we found the slide viewer. Strange things caught their eyes: An old biscuit cutter had sentimental value. The cut glass pitcher. A strange old lamp.

The two Swedish bibles from  the 1870s had names and dates of births, and dates of deaths and were held reverently once again. There were letters to be exclaimed over. When we went to the attic, Ed said right away, "My aunt wanted that wicker doll carriage in the very worst way!" Inwardly, I groaned, because I coveted it for myself, but it wasn't my memory, and so I told them that their aunt could have it. They looked at me. "She's dead," they said, and I am ashamed to say that my first thought was a jubilant "YES!" but I only said, "Well, I'm sorry that she was never able to get that carriage." I meant it too. I would not have missed it had I never set eyes on it.

3 hours later, we finally walked out of that house, tired and dirty and one of the people having some serious breathing issues from the dust in the attic.

Outside, they hugged me over and over and told me how wonderful it was to have all these things. They'd bought a fruit basket for us. It wasn't at all necessary. As happy as they were to get it, I was even happier to see it go. The fact that it went to where it belonged made it all the better.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Babies

I had 24 precious hours to spend with my new grand daughter, Iris, and I made the most of it. She is so cute.

Holding her, I re-remembered the way that a baby fits perfectly into your arm, perfectly into your shoulder. I re-remembered the little noises they make, the sweet smell of them, the weight of them...they are amazing. Just amazing.

The next day, I left them all behind. Cara would spend the weekend with Dylan and Brittani and Iris, and then she's headed back to Italy and her Colin.

I felt like I was leaving a bit of my heart behind. There never IS enough time, is there? I felt like we had used what we had very wisely though. None of it had been wasted. Not a second.

I think of my children as I'm falling asleep and the remembering makes me smile into the dark.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tom

Today, I was driving to pick William up from school. I saw a man walking down the sidewalk, slowly, carrying his umbrella, looking up. I recognized an old friend, Tom, from years back at work.

Tom was always a quiet person, the sort who saw good in everyone. He worked hard, smiled a lot. He had a wife he adored, and his children were grown, but he loved talking about them all.

A few months back, I saw Tom at the Walmart and we greeted each other with a hug. "How are you doing?" I asked him. "I haven't seen you in forever!" I asked him if he was still working where I'd seen him last and he told me that he retired.

"That's great!" I said. I commented that he and his wife were probably spending a lot more time with their kids and grandkids. Tom shook his head, looking down.

Turns out that he had retired, and a couple weeks later, his wife had taken sick and with no forewarning, she died. Just that quick.

I hardly knew what to say. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it."

I told him how sorry I was to hear that, and I was.

He told me that his children wanted him to move closer to them and that, while it was tempting, he just didn't feel ready to leave everything he knew behind and start over again. I told him that I thought it was wise to not make a bunch of changes at a time when he was was already negotiating more than his fair share of them.

We talked a while longer and then hugged goodbye.

I haven't seen him since, until today, when I passed him on the street, neatly dressed in dress shirt and khakis, carrying his umbrella, looking up.  Stopped at a light, he walked ahead of me, not knowing I was there. I saw him stop, bend, and pick up a piece of litter from against the curb. He continued on his way, and the light changed and I drove on my way.

It's easy to lose sight of in these tumultuous times, but we are surrounded by goodness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Things that make me go 'Hmmmmmmmmmmm...'

All week long, I've had the biggest problem with a clock that just stops. For no reason. It's wound. As soon as you set the pendulum swinging it takes right off. 

Tonight I came home to discover that the clock had stopped again. I was shocked to notice that the horse clock in the front hall had stopped. So had my cuckoo clock. 

I checked them once again. They are level. There's no reason that I can see that they have stopped. Resignedly, I set about starting them and resetting them once again. Makes me wonder if we're having earthquakes or something. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Tantrum

I picked William up from school today, and we headed to the grocery store to pick up a few items. On the way there, we had a talk. He'd had quite an tantrum the previous day and I wanted to talk to him about it. I knew that his heart broke a little when he said good bye to his Aunt Cara, but I reminded him that he was in second grade now. "If you are upset, you're old enough to use your words. You do not throw a tantrum."

He listened, and he agreed. "I was being immature," he said. He explained to me how maturely he had behaved in school that day and I told him that I was proud of him.

We went into the store and picked up some supplies for the next few days. I am having some surgery and wanted to give Tim some easy meal options.

We were waiting behind a man who had a cart with three cases of water, two in the back, one balanced in the seat. There were also two bags of coffee beans.

I was setting my things on the conveyor and I heard him say, "This needs to be rung up separately." I didn't watch closely, but his hand hovered over the coffee. I continued setting my things on counter.

I heard her give the total. I heard him flip. "That's not right!" he exclaimed. But he handed over the cash and she finished the transaction. He snatched his change and receipt, and really began to rant. "This is for the three cases of water!"

She looked confused. "Right," she said. "I'll ring up the coffee now."

He had wanted the one of the waters rung up with the coffee. "When I tell you to ring things up separately, I mean what I say," he growled. His anger was way out of proportion to the situation.

I stood there watching this. The man had set nothing on the conveyor. The water had been rung up from a card at her register. A reasonable person would have set the two coffees on the counter and asked her to ring that up with one of the waters, but he was not reasonable. He was disgusted and he made his disgust known. The cashier was a young girl. She apologized profusely and kept a smile on her face. He continued to rant.

I stood behind him and waited. She waited for him to pay. He finally swiped his card, muttering and punching the buttons. Then he grabbed his cart and took his rage right out the door.

The cashier looked at me and said, "Did you find everything you needed today?"

I said, "Yes. I did, and I just want to say that you did a very good job with a very unhappy customer. It was a misunderstanding."

She said, "I've been here for four years. Most people are great."

She was ringing up my stuff and I was swiping my card and William and I headed for the car, William clutching the stuffed toy he'd picked up for his new cousin, Iris.

Wouldn't you know it? The angry man was parked next to me and he stood glaring at me in a very angry manner. I ignored him. He glared. I'm not sure why he was so angry at me but maybe he was pissed at the whole world. I don't know. Some folks are like that.

William climbed in the car talking a blue streak about his present for Iris and I returned the cart. As I got into my own car, I heard him cuss and then saw him striding purposefully back to the store. I watched carefully. He headed straight in the exit. He was going back in to complain to the cashier or her supervisor.

Quite a tantrum, all of it over three cases of water and two bags of coffee beans.

What a world we live in.




Thursday, August 30, 2018

Prodigal daughter

Cara's home from Italy for a while.

So happy.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

William's Bike

The bike that William won at the fair was a full sized men's bike. It still had the tags on it, the instructions dangled from the handle bars, and the wheels still had the paper inside the spokes. We figured that we could swap it for a new kid's bike.

But the store would not take it back without a receipt.

We contacted the group that gave it away. They would have come out about $40 ahead on the deal. But they never contacted us back.

I got the idea to put a post on facebook explaining the situation. If a man was looking to buy a new bike for himself, he could get one and save about $40 by simply buying a little boy a bike and working an even steven swap with us. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Within minutes, someone was wanting to buy that bike for William. We met with them at the store, and William picked out his bike and he was a very excited little boy. The man said, "You need a light for that bike. Safety first. And so William got a light too.

The only fly in the ointment was that the couple refused the bike. We debated it, but they were adamant. "Pay it forward," they said.

It's been troubling me. I felt pretty guilty about how it all shook out.

Fast forward two weeks later.

Our church had our worship outside in the park. We had a pot luck, followed by a few hours of live music. Sitting at the hospitality table I noticed a young man wander in and sit quietly listening to the music. Later on, when I went inside to use the bathroom, the young man was getting a water.

I pointed towards the next room. "We've got a bunch of food in there, go fix yourself a plate."

He stood stock still and said, "Is it free?"

"Sure is," I said. "Go fix a plate." And he did. I saw him going back for seconds.

He came over and said, "Is there coffee anywhere?" I said, "I can make you a pot." So I did.

Outside again, I watched him return to the church several times for coffee.

He just kind of stuck in my mind. I wondered what his story was. Then suddenly, it popped in my mind that he needed a bike. It would not go away. I tried to get someone else to talk to him about it, but in the end, I got up and did it myself.

I said, "Hey, can I ask how you get around?"

He said, "I walk."

I said, "Would you like a bike?"

He looked at me like it was a trick question. He finally said that he would.

I said, "Come on."

We went to my car and I drove him home. He was very quiet, but he did ask, "What size is this bike?" Still a bit mistrustful of what was happening I think. I told him it was a 26 incher, and he was quiet again. I live about five minutes from church, and when we pulled into the driveway, I walked into the garage to pull it out. He said, "This is brand new!" I told him the story behind it.

I went into the house to get a pair of scissors to cut the tags off. When I came out he was struggling to fit his pop bottle full of coffee into the frame. I said, "Wait a minute." I went inside to get a bottle that had a loop to go over the handle bar.

He was gobsmacked. He thanked me and then he was gone.

Later, I messaged the people who'd given William his new bike. I told them what happened next. They both cried.

At that point, so did I.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Angry boy

In school, William had a friend. He wasn't a good friend. In fact the kid was in trouble, a lot. But I work with his step dad. I know that his parents struggle a great deal with him. I know that T. has had some pretty big stuff to deal with in his seven years on this earth.

Tim and I have great faith in the idea that if you set boundaries, if you expect the same things every time,  we think that kids respond to boundaries and clear expectations. I thought perhaps we could take this young man along with us camping a few times this summer. Unfortunately, as it worked out, this summer has been a bit of a challenge for me and I have been under the weather. We were only able to camp a handful of times.

However, in this last week of summer vacation, my friend and his wife have been struggling. They can't find day care for the boy. They have been taking turns missing work. They can't afford it but they have no alternative. My friend asked me what we were doing with William. I explained that Tim just takes him along to whatever he's working on.

Just so happens that Tim is working on a house that is on the route they take to get to work. After some amount of talk, Tim and I thought it would be nice to have his friend for the last few days of the summer, and that the boys could play together in the creek while Tim worked on the house. It would be just for a couple hours. His mother would drop him off after lunch, and his father would pick him up after we get out at 2:30.

The first day was not good. Seems that T. has an affinity for smashing things. Even more shocking was that William simply followed along with the bad behavior. Tim spoke very firmly to both of them.

The second day was even worse. Tim overheard the boys. T. was telling William that he couldn't play with his handheld game unless he *whisper, whisper* and while Tim didn't hear all of it, he plainly heard the 'f' word.

Tim was very interested to see what would happen next. William has a big tendency to blame his misbehavior on those around him.We tell him over and over again that it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing. He has a choice. He can either choose to go along with those who are doing the wrong thing or not, but it is a conscious choice he is making. He has to choose whether he is going to do the right thing or the wrong thing.

William did not say the 'f' word, and he was very quiet. T. was picked up and Tim had a private talk with his stepfather.

When William and his grandpa arrived home, Grandpa said, "I was very proud of you today, William. You made a good choice." He told me about the talk between William and T.

William filled in the rest of the story that Tim hadn't heard. William wanted to play with the game but Terry would not let him unless William told his grandpa to "Shut up, you big -------." Tim and I were shocked speechless. That is a tremendous amount of anger from a 7 year old.

William continued on. "I knew if I said that, Grandpa would ground me for the rest of my LIFE." He looked upset. "I love my grandpa. I don't want to be mean to him."

The world has changed a lot since I was a kid. Since my kids were kids. It is scary. But in the middle of that, we saw that all of our preaching made a difference for the boy we love best in all the world.

That night at the supper table, he said, "I have to be everybody's friend." We explained that no, he did not. He had to be kind. He was never to mean to others. However, when someone behaves badly, we want him to know that he's certainly entitled to choose to play with others. Just as we expect and hope that he will never stand by and watch someone bully another child, we hope that he would never just stand there and allow someone to bully HIM.

He digested this thoughtfully, right along with his meal.

The world is not a simple one, but it always amazes me that the answers generally are.

There are two more days before school starts again. I don't know what his parents are going to do, but T's problems are more than Tim can deal with. I feel sorry for him, and hope that somehow he gets sorted out.



Saturday, August 18, 2018

Iris Lynn

Two years ago, a little angel child was born and died, a shooting star in this world. Keegan's passing broke many hearts.

Now, 3 days before what would have been his second birthday, there is Iris Lynn, named for rainbows and her maternal grandmother. Three weeks premature, she weighed in at 7 lbs 13 oz, and she made sure that the world knew, right away, that there was nothing at all wrong with her lungs.

She is beautiful, and she is perfect.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Bike

Last week, Grandpa took the training wheels off William's bike. He'd got the bike for his 5th birthday, and he's always been a bit afraid of it. So it's practically new, very seldom ridden. Tim got tired of waiting for William to gain confidence, so he just took the training wheels off and matter of factly said, "Well, you're just going to have to figure it out, William."

And William did. He's been watching other kids riding around on their bikes, and he really wanted to join them. 

So he got on his bike and took off. Just like that, he got on his bike and he was riding all over the place just as if he'd been riding a two wheeler for all his days. 

He was beyond amazed, and came rushing into the house to tell me (at the top of his lungs) that he could now ride a two wheeler. I obligingly went to the door to watch him, and noted that unfortunately, he'd mastered the bike only after he'd outgrown the little 16 incher. 

Saturday night was the last day of the county fair, and Stock Car football. It has become a family tradition. I've been under the weather, so this year I couldn't go, but Tim and William went just as they always do. 

Now just before the "Super Bowl" round of stock car football, they have a drawing. Each kid in the crowd gets a ticket as they enter the gate and then at the end of the competitions, right before the grand finale, the Fair Queen pulls four numbers out one at a time, and the lucky ticket holders win a bike.

William was excited. He told Tim, "I'm going to pray to God to get one of them bikes." 

Tim smiled indulgently and gently explained that there were hundreds of kids there. 

Undeterred, William spent a great deal of the competition reciting the numbers out loud to himself, memorizing them. He recited the number over and over again. By the time the drawing came around, not only did he have his number memorized, so did every person in the vicinity. 

The Fair Queen read off the first number. It was not a match. William slumped a little. 

The second number was called and William studied his ticket anxiously, slumping a little more.

The third number was called and William sat up straight and stock still with big eyes. Two ladies sitting in front of him said, "That's YOUR number!" 

And it was. 

Tim took the ticket from William's excited fingers to make sure he didn't drop it down the bleacher seats and William shot off ahead to claim his bike, scared to death they'd think he wasn't there, and give his bike to someone else. 

William and Grandpa pushed the bike to the gate, and William commented, "I gotta calm down. I'm shaking." 





Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Death by Patience.

One boy came home tired and dirty from the fair.
At supper time, he ate like a little piglet, and then began to pester to go to the playground. "Listen," we explained in reasonable tones. "We've been working all day. We have things to get done inside the house before we go back to work tomorrow. You had a fun day already and you'll spend most of tomorrow at the playground."
He glared and sulked. "I'm bored!" he whined. "I don't have anything to do." And he flounced to the living room to complain and mope.
I channeled my inner grandma. "Come on," I said. "You can be a chef." Major meltdown ensued. He wanted to do something FUN, not work. "Nope, you're bored, can't find anything to do. I've got something for you to do."
He wailed the blues while I chopped the carrots, celery, mushrooms, chicken, onions, asparagus, garlic, etc. and dumped them in a fry pan with the left over chicken. He howled as he sauteed them. He was still howling when we added the thick rich chicken broth from the multipot and added the rice.
I ignored him and kept on cleaning the kitchen. "Just think," I said, "you're cooking tomorrow's supper!"
To which Mr. Picky said, "WE GOTTA EAT THIS FOR SUPPER?!!! Get ready for a big fit at suppertime." And his lip stuck out stubbornly.
We had a discussion about the fact that he was being terribly rude, while we discussed how pretty our rice dish looked with the colored vegetables, "Hey, I said, "get a bit of rice and tell me whether you think it's done or not. Blow on it," I reminded him. He nibbled and looked at me in amazement. "This is very good."
By the time we were done with the rice, we decided what to make for dessert and while the brownies baked, we had a stern talking to about how he's not the boss, and that no means no, and every time he starts complaining about being bored, I'll find something for him to do.
Licking the spatula, he said, "But I love helping you cook, grandma. It's fun."
The stinker.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Family Time

Tim and I bought property some time back for our retirement home. It is across the road from my sister and brother in law's, and a two houses down from my nephew and niece's house. It's nice to have the 'fambly' time.

Last week, my other nephew (who is in the military) and his wife brought property that backs up against his brother's property.

We had a work bee.

I was standing knee deep in a spring fed pond in my bare feet cleaning out heavy vegetation. I was excited to see that the pond was rock walled. I pulled and pulled and pulled, and made good headway on what my sister had begun the night before. My brother in law loaded up the stuff in his bucket loader and gave the grandchildren tractor rides to the yard waste pile somewhere out across the pasture. After a while, my feet got so cold that I had to get out of the water for a while. My nephew took a turn, trying to get as much done as we could before the thunder rumbling across the hills turned into rain.

Bill's first pitchfork of water plants brought up a largish crayfish, maybe 4 inches long, and I was quick to point it out to my grand niece and nephews. Bill tried to grab him up but he let loose of the roots of the plant he came up with and wriggled back into the water even as I called out, "Look at the crayfish!" Little Niko immediately made gimme motions with his little fingers and wailed, "I want to look at it with my hands!" We all laughed at the sweetness of it.

The thunder rumbled, and finally it began to rain, and three generations went in to eat together.





Saturday, July 21, 2018

Hot Summer Day

Last week, I walked to pick up William from camp.

A small girl was sitting on the sidewalk in front of a poor looking house, but unlike many children in the neighborhood, she was attended. Her father was sitting on the steps watching her draw.

"Hi!" she said, looking up from her stencils.

"Hi!" I said back, stopping.

"I have chalk!"

"I see that," I said, "and you have have sparkly chalk. I've never seen that before! And stencils too! Did you make those stars?"

And she began to point. "My daddy made these, and I made these..." and the chattering began in earnest.

Her young father, a mechanic from a local business, according to his shirt, began to look a little self conscious that a total stranger had been told that just moments before he'd been sitting on the sidewalk with his daughter drawing stars with sparkly chalk.

I said, "Well, I have to go pick up my grandson from camp. You have fun drawing."

"Bye!" she called out, waving her chalk at me.

As I continued on my way, I heard her father say, "Gees. You don't need to stop every single person that walks by..." and I turned back to him to call out, "She's adorable, and this was a very sweet moment...don't you be taking that away from me now!" and I shook my finger at him in a mock threat.

He laughed out loud and his little girl did too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rescued

Like most of America, I've been following the cave rescue in Thailand. Studying the maps and diagrams, it really is miraculous that they found these kids to begin with, but they did. I wondered why a coach would have led them 2 1/2 miles into a cave, the passage so narrow at times that they had to squeeze through to continue. Then the rain came and the passages began to flood and they were trapped. 

But the boys were found. Keeping morale up, letters were taken out of the cave to parents, and parents wrote letters which were ferried back in to their boys. Something that touched my heart was the coach's apology to the parents, begging their forgiveness for putting their sons' lives in danger. I was touched again, when the parents' wrote back to the coach. "We forgive you!" "We do not blame you." "We are grateful that you are with our son, because you can help them stay calm." The answers came one right after another, and they were all forgiving and kind. 

I know a woman who is always angry about something. Really. She's always complaining. Something always disgusts her. She's always got to vent her spleen about it. Today, studying her phone, she exclaimed, "Oh! They got all the boys out!" 

I quietly rejoiced. 

But as is her custom, she immediately began to complain about the coach and his poor decisions that led to this catastrophe, and what should happen to him, and on and on she went, her disgust increasing the more she talked. 

Forgiveness. 

It makes me happy to know that there are places where it can still be found, and abundantly, too. Because I have to tell you it is something that seems to be in pretty short supply in my country.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Phone Home

Tim got a wild hair, just as Tim tends to do. He found a house.

I said, "Well, you need to go look at it the inside before you get all carried away with yourself." (Right hand to God, I figured that the inside would be a disaster because the roof looks wonky.) Since he's working on a house right now, with another house waiting to be worked on, I knew that he would not be wanting to sign on for another project. So I thought I was safe.

He happily gets on the phone with 'our' realtor, and makes an appointment for 10 this AM.

This morning, I went off to work, reasonably confident that nothing would come of this.

At lunch time, I called home, prepared to say something to the effect of  'well, things work out the way they do for a reason,' or 'it just wasn't meant to be' or some other comforting (and totally insincere) platitude.

I caught Tim on the roof of a house. I said, "So did you meet with Ron?" and he cheerfully said, "Yes I did."

I began to grow concerned at his cheerfulness.

"It looks really nice," he says, "but there's a little glitch."

A little glitch? I began to feel hopeful again. He continued on. "Yes. Two properties are being sold together."

I said, quickly, "The house next door?" (because it is vacant, and I don't understand why it is not a blighted property). "We're NOT buying the house next door," I said, preparing to dig my heels in.

"No, no, no. You've got to buy her beauty salon."

"A BEAUTY SALON????? WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!! I DON'T WANT A BEAUTY SALON! NO!"

Tim said, "Someone wants the beauty shop. I'll tell you all about it when you get home."

I hung up the phone and headed to the microwave to heat up a lunch that I'd suddenly lost my appetite for.

If there is a 12 step program for Tim's addiction, it probably leads to the front door of an old house....and the steps probably need fixed.



Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Strangers.

You know how, sometimes, you have an idea in your head that never quite matches the reality of the situation?

After I got off work while William was in school, I'd drive up to the school to pick him up. On the way, I'd pass an older white haired gentleman with a beard. He was walking with a young boy. His head always seemed inclined to hear what the lad was telling him. The boy seemed happy to have the undivided attention of his grandpa and would be talking away. 

It was such a sweet picture, and it gave me a happy moment to see them and their quiet joy in simply being together. 

Then came a week when I did not see them. 

I wondered about them. Did something happen to the elderly man? Did the little boy move away? It seemed that I would never know. Shoot. I did not even know their names. 

I was at a protest, and there was honking and beeping and chanting and the like. We were just about to break up for the evening, and there across the street was the white haired bearded fellow.

I shot across the street to introduce myself and tried to explain the small spot of joy it brought to my heart to see him walking with his grandson on the way home from school. My explanation made me feel a little foolish. 

He looked at me, threw back his head and laughed out loud. He said, "It's the small things that make all the difference, isn't it?" 

Yes. 

It is. 

And two total strangers looked at each other and understood. 

I love when that happens.