While eating brunch today with Janet, I spotted this dear couple across from me. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the gentleman, and I realized it was because he reminded me of my grandpa–not only in looks, but also behavior. Like my grandpa, he had a hard time hearing, and asked the waitress to speak louder. He also bowed his head in prayer before digging into his food, just like my grandpa would have done.
Janet noticed my fixation on this man and asked me, “Do you miss your grandpa?”
And suddenly I realized that I really did. I cried big, blubbery tears at the table and dripped snot as I started talking about all the things I missed about him: his loving nature, his strength, his kindness, and his honesty.
“I’m going to go talk to him,” I said to Janet.
Janet seemed a little concerned about my plan, considering my face was covered in tears and snot, yet she was also supportive. “If you think that’s what you’re supposed to do in this moment, then do it,” she said.
“I’ll have to stop crying and get myself together first, obviously,” I said.
Once I finally stopped crying and felt that I looked relatively normal, I walked over to him and gently touched him on the shoulder.
“I have been looking at you and can’t stop thinking about how much you look like my grandpa,” I said, unexpectedly tearing up again.
I suddenly realized that everyone’s eyes in the restaurant were now on me, and so as luck would have it, the blubbery tears and snot started again.
“Aww,” said his wife. “Well, he is a grandpa. He has grandchildren.”
He looked up at me and locked eyes. I suddenly had the thought that because he was hard of hearing, that he had heard nothing of what I had just said and wondered who in the hell this crazy lady was who was dripping snot.
I ran out of the restaurant and continued to cry but also laugh hysterically about how I had possibly freaked out this poor man.
But what I realized is this: our grief and our longing stay with us, especially when we don’t take the time to dig into them. They are right beneath the surface, waiting for the perfect moment to seep out. I haven’t cried about missing my grandpa in the last six years. My brain knows he is gone.
And yet, my soul pines for his presence in my life, and seeks for someone to fulfill his place. It’s almost as if I had been waiting to see him, and he showed up in the restaurant today, reminding me of just how much I love him and want him to still be there: to still be the one I can turn to for wisdom, and to serve as my spiritual role model and mentor.
I miss you, Grandpa Sommers. Apparently more than I even knew I did.