Sheryl-Ann yelled a greeting at me as I entered the diner. How would I like my eggs? Poached. She paused, and I saw over her shoulder that Arlo was alone in the kitchen. “You know, sunny side up will be great.” She smiled with relief, “You’re so kind.” Not really, I’m just trying not to be an a**hole today (another post, another story), but that’s lovely to hear.
“You sit honey, and I’ll bring you your breakfast.” I found an empty booth by the window and placed my bag and jacket on the faded red bench. Looking out at the bustling sidewalk, I imagined what the diner must have been like years ago. Before the layers of wear and tear. Still, I liked it.
“How are you today?” I looked up and saw that the bright voice belonged to a lady with gleaming white hair that caught the sunlight. “Good, good. How are you?” Her dishes scattered around her and the day’s paper opened beside her Jell-O. “Well, it’s been a hard day. But I’m doing okay. I rest here when I need to.” She gestured to her walker with a built-in chair. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself, can you?” No ma’am, I agreed. “I’m 89 this year.” “You’re kidding? You’re doing great!” I could only hope to be enjoying Jell-O and chatting up strangers at a diner if I make it that far.
She nodded. “I’m Verna.” Pleased to meet you. Sheryl-Ann brought over my breakfast. “You want some juice with that?” Verna asked me. Thank you so much, but I’m okay. “You sure? My treat.” I met her vivid blue eyes. Someone who understands what it’s like to count out your change and maybe do without. “Thanks so much, Verna, but I like water with lemon.” She looked doubtful. “Do you like Jell-O, dear?” Verna asked. Absolutely. I realized that I hadn’t had Jell-O in years.
“You want my paper?” She tried handing it to me and I caught it as it started to slide off the table. She gathered up her belongings and put them in her walker-basket. “You have yourself a good day.” You too.
I waved to her on the sidewalk and wondered at the stories she must have. I carefully placed the sunny side-up eggs on the multigrain toast, and cut around the yolk. Sheryl-Ann brought over some Jell-O. “You want whipped cream?” Umm…? “It’s from Verna.” I smiled, delighted. How does someone get to be so thoughtful and generous? “What would Verna recommend?” Sheryl-Ann laughed, what do you think hon? Right. Bring it on.
What’s the secret to a life well-lived? Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Enjoy Jell-O whenever possible. Be sure to remember the whipped cream, too! And, once in a while, share a little kindness with strangers.