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.