Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Opportunity Almost Missed

My oldest son (age 10) and I went to the grocery store. We went through the whole store, buying everything necessary to sustain a family of five for the week. Upon completion of our long list, we headed for the dreaded checkout. We got our groceries scanned and paid for them. YES! Another trip to the grocery store, DONE! :)

But what's this? Oh, it seemed I'd forgotten to pick up something my husband asked for. Bummer. Josh (my oldest) was tired and asked if he could sit on a bench at the front of the store by the checkouts. Not being a "helicopter" parent, I said yes, he could sit in the a/c and watch our newly purchased food. I'd only be a minute.

I walked quickly to the correct aisle, grabbed the previously forgotten item, and headed back to the checkout. As I waited for my turn, I glanced in the direction that my son was sitting. I saw him talking with an older man. He looked to be in his sixties. They seemed to be having a pleasant conversation.

I paid for my item and went to my son. "Time to go," I said.

"Ok," Josh said to me. Then he got up and turned to the man with whom he was conversing and said, "bye. It was nice talking to you." I beamed with pride at his manners.

The the older gentleman got up, turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, "Thank you for that moment. My youngest grandson, also 10, died last year from a brain tumor. Tomorrow would've been his 11th birthday. I've been having a hard time dealing with his death. I miss him. I miss talking to him. Your young man brought back so many happy memories. I felt like I was talking with my grandson again. I thank you for that."

I thanked him for sharing his heart, told him I would pray for him and gave him a hug. And I couldn't help but feel that if I had been a proponent of "worst-first thinking," afraid of child molesters everywhere, afraid of letting my tired son sit on a bench, this poor old soul never would've found comfort, even if only for a moment. I'm glad I could do that for him.

This is why we don't really do "stranger danger." Sure, I tell my kids not to go anywhere with people they don't know, and I tell them not to accept gifts from strangers without permission, but I don't teach them not to talk to strangers. I teach them to be polite and reply when an adult (or anyone else) addresses them.

To the man in the store: I am praying for you. You will find comfort in God's hands.I'm glad a short conversation with my son brought you such peace.