Sunday, February 3, 2008

Happiness is itself a kind of gratitude. ~ Joseph Wood Krutch

I had the pleasure this weekend of cooking breakfast at the restaurant for a dear elderly couple. Friday morning, I answered a number of questions for the woman about what we offered for breakfast, what I could cook for her and her husband, and where she could find various items at the buffet. She was so pleasant and appreciative, but she apologized nonetheless, "I'm sorry. My husband isn't well, and we just need to be careful about what he eats." She would find another potential breakfast item for him and walk back to their table where he was waiting and report her findings, then come back to the buffet and either add it to his plate or return to their table to ask him about something else.

"They have scrambled eggs," she could be heard telling him. "How about some scrambled eggs and an English muffin?" She made the trip back and forth from the table and buffet-area a few times before they decided on his breakfast, and I talked with her while she arranged his plate. She and her husband were in the city for his appointment at the cancer center, she told me. She hoped the center wouldn't be too hard to find, since they had arrived in the very early morning in the dark and during an ice storm. I explained where the center was--right down the street--and wished her and her husband well.

Yesterday morning, the woman and her husband were back in the restaurant, and this time, the husband was well-enough to visit the buffet-area and fix his own plate. The fact that he reminded me so much of Mike's dad made seeing him walking around on his own even sweeter. He, like his wife, was such a pleasure to talk with and help, and when I told him that I could make pancakes, French toast, or waffles if he didn't feel like eggs again, he smiled and said, "Oh, a waffle sounds good! I don't know if I could eat a whole waffle, though." I explained that I could make him a tiny waffle, or a couple tiny waffles, and he turned to his wife and exclaimed, "We should get waffles, then! This is a celebration, after all!" I told him I'd bring the waffles out to him, and as he made his way back to the table, I smiled and said to his wife, "I take it his appointment went well yesterday, since you're celebrating?"

"He's terminal," the woman quietly explained. "We come here for his chemotherapy so we can buy him some time and get our affairs in order. But yes, it did go well yesterday." We talked a few minutes more as she got her own breakfast, and I felt close to tears as I listened to her. I told her I'd keep her and her husband in my prayers, and my mind was filled with thoughts of Mike and his parents and marriage and commitment and love as I made the silver dollar-size waffles.

I arranged a couple of the tiny waffles with still-smaller bowls of maple syrup, strawberry topping, and butter and margarine pats and took them out to the couple. The husband laughed in delight at the presentation and thanked me so kindly, and about an hour later when he and his wife got up to leave, he stopped me as I walked by and said again, "Thank you very much for that. That was really something, really very nice." I thanked them too and wished them well, and my choked-up feeling stayed with me quite awhile back at my cook-station. People are always so much stronger than they think they are, and I have lived through enough broken hearts to understand that life goes on, but there is such sweet wisdom in knowing what that couple knows and still celebrating with waffles.