Maya Angelou said people won’t remember the words you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. She was so right. When I’m in my feels I remember people who went out of their way to show extravagant kindness. One such moment happened at the Double T Diner in Catonsville, Md about eight years ago. It was a yearly Father’s Day gathering and we sat at a specially arranged long table in the inner room. Our gatherings are always so loud that everyone participates or gives those glaring glances as if to remind us we’ve forgotten our indoor voices. We do forget. Whenever we’re together. The good time outweighs any negative “feel waves” we might have encountered since the last gathering. We are blessed to be a family-in-training for how love and grace really work together. We don’t have it yet. But I’ve got to tell you I’m blessed to be in this bunch.
Anyway everyone was eating and I was overjoyed. You see, all my children were gathered. Even Adrian. I didn’t birth him but he’s been mine since he was seven months old. Even went to court to keep him after he’d been with me for seven years. He’s always been an odd bird and much of it is attributable to the experiences of his early months that led to his being in our household. Abandonment. Deprivation. Things that left indelible marks on his soul. Marks that the abundant but imperfect love we tried to lavish on him just could not erase. And for reasons we still can’t understand led him to choose life on the street. And yet he seems happy in the life he’s chosen. And yet he seems overjoyed to be with us whenever we can track him down. And his sisters find him weekly to be sure he has his necessaries to sustain him.
So he’s not always available for family celebrations. But he was here for this one. And he hadn’t done due diligence as far as personal hygiene. His face was dark with street dark. His clothes were unkempt and unclean. His locks were unruly and untended and he looked and smelled like a “homeless” guy. We didn’t care because he’s our “homeless” guy and we love him. But he’d drawn stares from the time we got out of the car. And they continued throughout the meal. I’m not throwing shade. I might have stared at someone who looked like him. But he’s my son and I was just thrilled he was with us.
And there was this waitress. I wish I knew her name. Every time this memory resurfaces my heart just melts at the thought of her. She was a White woman, brown hair, slight built. Heart of gold. She waited on my son as if he had been the visiting king of a neighboring country. She saw to his every need. She regarded him with kindness and hospitality as if he were a guest in her home. She even anticipated his needs and made sure he had enough of everything he ate.
I thanked her without gushing and we tipped her well as we always do. But there was nothing I could have given her that would have compensated her or even matched the extravagant kindness with which she treated my son that day. God knows who she is and I pray that even today, probably eight years later that God would lovably some gift, some kindness on her that she won’t even understand. Not to pay her. To overwhelm her so her cup of kindness continues to overflow and rebound to bless her and everyone she meets.