Last night I attended a Middle School musical, it was fantastic and the set was amazing. After the musical, a group of freshman attending the show wanted to go to MacDonald’s to socialize. Who am I to stand in the way of teenager fun? So, along I went to MacDonald’s. As the kids were enjoying themselves, I sat by myself eating a salad and checking Twitter. I noticed an older man come in by himself, dressed in his Sunday best, and he slowly walked to a table near our tables. My first reaction was, “Oh no, these kids are loud and laughing and he is having dinner”. I noticed his hat, it was an older, “U.S. Navy” hat. All I could keep thinking was, these teenagers have the privilege of living a life of freedom, they are laughing hard and having fun because of the men and women that fought for our freedom.
I stopped worrying about the noise from my freshman crew and I quickly realized he wanted to be around activity. I wanted to buy his meal, but he already paid for it. Another mom and dad came in to MacDonald’s and joined me. I pointed out the veteran near us. As he stood up to go, I jumped up and cleared up his area and asked if I could toss his stuff away, and he thanked me. I started a conversation with him and shared that he was at church prior to his dinner at MacDonald’s. The other dad joined in the conversation and asked about his hat. Yes, our new friend, Joe, was in the service, and he was on an aircraft carrier and was a diesel mechanic.
We heard a lot about Joe’s life and we were happy to listen. Joe’s wife is in a nursing home near him now. She has been in a nursing home for four years. Joe is lonely. There are times we are all lonely. It does not take much to strike up a conversation or to share a few kind words. I know we made Joe’s night and I am certain he will look for us again next Sunday, maybe we will just show up and buy his dinner. How fun for us and for Joe!
Thank you to all of our veterans!