March 6, 2008
I met an old man today while waiting for my prescription at King Soopers.
He was huffing and puffing, tired from pushing his walker around the store. So he took a seat in the chair next to me, almost taking me out with his elbows as he sat down laboriously.
I was already irritated. I have an ear infection, and the pain can be excruciating if you’ve ever had one, so the last thing I wanted to do was listen.
But, whether I wanted to listen or not, this man decided to talk to me anyway. He told me he wasn’t getting a prescription today, but that he simply wanted to sit down while his wife finished shopping because he was old and tired.
He asked what was wrong with me.
“Ear infection,” I said.
Then he asked if I was married.
I told him no, that I was actually far from it and finally happy being single for the time being.
“Bachelor for life, eh?”
I told him no, that I do plan on getting married at some point.
“Good for you!” he said, and then he told me that he’s been married for almost 60 years. He was 29 when he got married, but when he knew, he knew, he said.
“You’ve got to wait for the right woman. We were so happy,” he says. “‘Course, over the years I went blind and lost my health, so she has to do all the driving and take care of me. She’s gotten a bit grumpier since those early days, and it’s tough being old and falling apart, but we still love each other. You know, I have 18 grand kids. Can’t even keep up with their birthdays every few weeks.”
And you could tell this man was genuinely happy. Through all the prescriptions, blindness, crazy family and old age, he and his wife have made it work and they still take trips to the grocery store together to shop. He has to force himself to walk around that store, but he does it because he loves being with her.
That’s the stuff I’m waiting for. I want to crawl into my grave with no legs, blind as a bat and happy as a lark that I fell in love with the right woman and we created a beautiful, healthy family together.
“Mr. Garramone?” the pharmacist called out.
I stood to get my prescription, which took a few minutes due to an insurance issue, and when I turned around he was gone.
Since I didn’t get the chance: thank you, old man, for being one of my angels and showing me that it’s okay to wait. And that it’s important to listen. Even when you only have one good ear to do so.
by Louie Garramone
Editor: Caroline Beaton