By: Jeremy Koerber
Anyone that knows me even a little bit knows that on Saturday nights, my love for a roaring fire, a movie and family surrounding me is what I look forward to all week long. Last Friday my oldest son turned 13 and ironically, all heck broke loose at work and I was unable to leave early to spend the afternoon with him. Saturday found me at the gym all day as well. I came home exhausted but eager to do something fun with him and the rest of the family. I mentioned several restaurants located throughout west county; he wanted to go to Culver’s which is less than 2 miles up the road. The vote was unanimous. Culver’s it was.
I am not sure if he shares my love of simple things or this was a happy accident but knowing we could all enjoy a fun meal and be home to light the fire before 7pm made me almost giddy. I am an old soul. We arrived, ordered our food and sat down at a four-top table. As Beth and the kids settled in their seats, I saw him. An old man dining alone two tables down.
He was wearing khaki pants, a gray jacket and sported the kind of hat old men wear. He had a long face that was accentuated with a very bushy mustache, but his eyes were dark and sad. I tried not to stare so I kept looking away but continued to analyze this gentleman. At that moment it hit me; he was also sitting at a four-top table.
I almost felt guilty as the kids laughed and we engaged in conversation. I never really caught him looking over at us but began to wonder, did he once have Saturday nights like I was experiencing at this moment? One where he too was surrounded by a beautiful wife, young children and a seemingly endless number of years to have many more experiences like I was having with my family. He never looked up from his meal. The loneliness was palpable and then it hit me. I have seen that same look in my grandfather’s eyes as he ate a meal. Sitting, staring at his food, not engaging in conversation but maybe, remembering a time when the table was full. Full of the people he cared most about in this life.
I think it is hard for us to empathize what that must feel like because the only way to know how this feels is to live it; something we will all experience if we are blessed to walk the earth long enough. I wanted to go up, put my hand on his shoulder and offer some form of comfort but the next time I looked up he was gone. We finished our meal and went home the fire and a movie.
Last week, I took a trip with the boys to the farm to clear out a new food plot location and obtain some soil samples to prepare for Spring planting. As we left town, the boys and I stopped off at the cemetery to visit some friends and relatives who have passed on. As I wiped away tears climbing back into the truck, my youngest asked me if I was okay. It wasn’t the same feeling of loss or loneliness that I sensed from the old man at Culver’s, but it was in the ballpark. The only difference? I was driving home to a full house. The old man? He was going it alone.
I’m not certain how to wrap this story up. I guess if I were to bring it home with a catchy phrase or one liner that would be cool but what I really wanted to do was to get anyone who reads this to appreciate who is in their life and all the things God has blessed them with.
I turned 40 three years ago, and the years are going by faster and faster. I blinked and my son turned 13. A few more blinks and I could be the old man at the table.
Grab on to those around you. Hold them tight and make sure that the people you love, know you love them as well. Because it all moves so incredibly fast.
Contributions made by Fit2Hunt Staff!