Let me set the scene-
It was the beginning of August in Las Vegas. It was HOT! The countdown until school was back in session was on. The kids were bored. I was bored. Swimming had lost its appeal and the walls of our home were beginning to slowly close in on us. The sound of contention was growing louder. I was tired of constantly entertaining the kids and even more tired of feeling like a failure at doing so. As they get older entertainment becomes more about the “experience” than about the activity.
Shake Shack had recently opened a new location down the street from our home, conveniently located in an outside mall. I decided it was the perfect thing to do to get us outside the home and away from electronics. We casually ventured through a few stores, harmless window shopping, before heading to grab lunch. We climbed the steps to the sleek exterior of the new Shake Shack. This would be our first time eating at this establishment. I was oblivious as to what to expect. There was virtually no line and we found our self at the counter unsure as what to order. I was glancing over the menu while simultaneously describing food items out loud to the children I thought they would enjoy. The man behind the counter was kindly guiding us and answering questions. What felt like all at once, my kids decided to tell me what each one of them wanted to eat. I was mentally calculating the cost of everything the kids just mentioned attempting to remain within our family budget. When I turned to order, of course I had forgotten exactly what everyone wanted. So, I attempted again, asking the kids what they wanted and telling them yes or no to certain items. My patience was already shot from it being the end of the summer, but I was trying my hardest not to lose it. Ordering for 4 kids and myself in a new restaurant can be overwhelming while remaining in budget. In all honesty I wanted to break down and cry! Once again I turned to the man behind the counter, who was most likely about 65-70 years old and attempted to order. He must have noticed the chaos because with love and remembrance in his eyes he said to me, “I have children, I miss them, I would give anything to return to this crazy time of life. What might seem miserable now, will be all you’ll yearn for someday.” My world seemed to slow as I absorbed what he was genuinely sharing with me. It did not feel like a lecture. I could genuinely feel his love and his remorse for his children. He was speaking his thoughts of the heart out loud, almost as if he had been yearning to share that with someone for years! It is interesting how the intent of another’s heart can change the way things are received. I collected myself and together the older man and I ordered way too much food. He told me what was good, what would be best for the kids and helped me save a few dollars. I knew I would never forget this mans face.
Months passed and my thoughts continued to linger over this man and his sweet disposition. One evening my family and I found ourselves at the same Shake Shack. This time around was smoother. We knew what we wanted and how to order. It also helped that my husband was by my side helping wrangle the kids. While we were ordering I spotted a familiar face. My heart warmed and my mind filled with the thoughts of that hot summer day months earlier. I wanted to know the man’s name who helped me on a hard day by simply sharing the thoughts of his heart. After ordering and finding our seats I watched the man busily clean the restaurant. My mind was off the chart with what to say, how to say it, what would he think, what would he say and a million other paranoid scenarios. One thing I knew without a doubt, I needed to tell him how grateful I was for his words. Now to work up the courage to do so!
Everyone, except me, had finished eating and had worked their way towards the gaming area found in the rear of the restaurant. I knew this opened up a window I needed to jump through. I was intently watching him, whispering encouraging words to myself. He passed by, but I didn’t seize the moment. I thought to myself; should I follow him, what if he walks into the back of the kitchen and never returns, I need to do this! My stomach was churning so bad I thought I was going to throw up what I just ate. He was coming towards my table again, now is my chance! My heart begin to swell!
“Sir!” I said as I gently grabbed his arm. As I fought back tears, I told him, you probably don’t remember me, but I was in here a few months ago with my four crazy children. It was the end of the summer, it was hot and I was a mother on my last leg of patience. You kindly waited to take our order and you told me how much you love and miss your children and gently reminded me that these are the good moments, the ones I will miss and cherish. I wanted to let you know how much that meant to me. It touched my heart and forever changed me and I wanted to make sure you knew that. I ended by asking him his name. He told me it was Roy.
I said, “Roy, thank you!” (I wanted to take a picture with him, but I figured he already thought I was loco, so I cut him a break.)
Through his tears he said, “No thank you!” He excused himself to attend to his tears in private and I returned to my family trying to remember to savor every moment.
Life is a matter of perspective, and perspective can change.