I saw three men sitting in the lobby in their wheelchairs. That is a little bit unusual. Norman, Artie and Jose. I brought out the bag of gifts and said that they could take what they needed or wanted. For themselves or for their friends. Stuffed animals, slippers, cologne and few crossword puzzle and word search books.
Artie took the perfume for his girlfriend. Norman wanted the purple monkey and Jose latched onto the big purple fish. Another man came along and saw the gifts being shared. He asked for five gifts because he had five grandsons.
Artie, where did you meet your girlfriend?
In here, a year ago.
I looked over to the lunch room on my right side. There was Artie sitting next to a lady, also in her wheelchair. (She was only 65-years-old.) She was holding a yellow box, a pretty box….the perfume, a gift from her sweetheart Artie.
I tried my limited Spanish on a conversation with Jose. He was wearing a protective helmet on his head. I can only imagine how fragile his head is that he has to wear this type of head gear.
What kind of work did you do, Jose?
Every possible job that I could find to do. I was a hard worker.
I looked at Norman and really connected with him on a special level. He was only 71. He looked like he had been a strong man physically and competent. Articulate, too.
How long have you been here, Norman?
Seven months. I don’t know if I am in here for good. I can’t walk and have other issues. I owned a barber shop for 42 years and some apartment buildings. I was in the army when I was 18. When I came out of the service, my mother told me that I would make a good barber and she showed me how to cut hair. I liked it a lot – that is what helped me when my 26-year-old son self-destructed. He couldn’t seem to turn his life around. I don’t say much about that anymore. What could I do – nothing could change what happened. How his life went downhill. I had the barber shop to go to…….and my faith that I got from my grandmothers. You are always going in or going out of something.
Norman, what do you mean by that?
That is the way it is with God. He is always taking you out of a situation or bringing you into something. Think of God and all of the trials and tribulations’ that He had to go through. Why would I think that I would be able to go through life without going in and out. My other son was a Marine. He was killed when his truck turned over. You have no control over the events of life. The Man Upstairs is the only one to hang onto. He is the only One who could help to mend my broken heart – two times.
I want to go back and see Norman again. I bet his sons were handsome young men. Their dad had something special in his demeanor. It was peace. He smiled. I smiled. We thanked each other for the conversation. I walked outside to the freezing wind with a warm feeling in my heart.
I wonder what lessons Norman will help me understand the next time we meet.