Super Tall Guy was not going to move from the green lacy Victorian sofa. He had a stack of Pokemon cards in his hands and was intent on “studying” them for as long as this process was going to take. Mr. Ornery and The Little Guy hung on my legs impeding forward movement. It was an unusual sight for them to be sure; about fifty elderly men and women sat around tables in groupings of three to six. “One of them has a helmet,” whispered The Little Guy. “Yes,” I replied, “he does, but we aren’t going to point. It’s lunch time for everyone.”
A lot of cajoling and a few bodily shoves eventually moved the fifty- and thirty-pound little boys towards the open doorway. They stood frozen with red Valentine hearts clasped between stiff fingers. The delight of making the cards, the joy of writing their names, the discussion of visiting “older people” had all faded when faced with the unknown. A woman looked up and smiled. “How about handing her a card?” I questioned.
You could have heard a hearing aid buzz in that silence. I fought to overcome my own discomfort and prod my boys toward handing over some cards. Little by little they realized that their simple acts were being met by smiles and delighted “Oh, look, it’s a little Valentine’s Day card” responses. One was even rewarded with a small white chocolate Kit Kat bar from a sweater pocket. Mr. Ornery surprisingly and graciously replied “oh, I don’t need one” when the woman confessed she didn’t have another for him.
It was readily apparent that we had not brought enough cards for everyone, though. We had never visited this home before. I had no idea we’d be walking into a room of senior citizens spooning chicken noodle soup. I felt terrible that we didn’t have enough and uncomfortable about leaving some people out. I turned to my friend and offered to run home for some more cards, but lunch would likely end before then. Next time, I thought.
As we drove home, we reflected on what a lovely time that had been. It was brief and little interaction, but the boys learned something that day. They learned that sometimes older people live away from their families. They learned that sometimes older people have to sit in a wheelchair or use a walker to help them move. They learned that sometimes they fall asleep while eating lunch. They learned that when you give a little, you make others smile and have a moment of joy.
They learned that they can bring joy to someone else with small acts of kindness.
Well, Super Tall Guy still has a bit of learning in that arena. He spent the way home asking if we could go to Target and buy him a new toy. But I have high hopes for him. I know that he approaches new situations warily and with great caution. I was that way myself. He’ll come around. It will take awhile, but he’ll come around to the idea of service (I have great hope!).