All Over Coffee In A Corner Booth

 

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The strong aroma of fresh coffee and maple syrup; drifted by our small corner booth. All while my youngest daughter and I were enjoying an early morning breakfast before a doctor appointment. It’s not often I get to spend one on one time with my children, but when I do…I seize the moment. Our waitress seemed to be struggling with meeting the demands of all her customers, frazzled she accidently burns the corner of my hand while pouring my second cup of coffee. She instantly apologized as I checked to make sure my hand was still functional, I told her everything was fine. Glancing up at her with a smile of reassurance that I was indeed alright, I noticed her concerned face and the start of what looked like a tear welling in her eye.  She turned away and disappeared into the kitchen.

Turning to my daughter whom was so deeply concentrated on her picture she was coloring, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation going on in the booth behind ours. There were two men with shiny silver hair combed back smoothly in their golden ages with a nicely folded newspaper lying between them. Conversing about health insurance, medical conditions & their late wives I couldn’t help but concentrate on their tone. Obviously, with one having high blood pressure and the other battling cancer I would think that they would be full of sadness or anger, maybe even bitterness. Instead they spoke with a firm but joyous tone, of their lives that lie ahead of them.  Just as I was trying to listen more my daughter accidentally placed her arm in my pancake, which means sticky maple syrup coated her entire arm and shirt sleeve. Sighing as if it were the last blow I could take this morning I started cleaning her up and giving her the speech of how she needs to pay attention more. I mean seriously, she is 3 and a half..right?

The morning was a typical morning in the Willamette Valley, which meant it consisted of some kind of precipitation. Our booth was nestled in the corner up against a window facing the busy road. Glancing through the droplets on the pane of glass I began looking at the clouds starting to break up. I was trying to plan my getaway, I mean we may just melt if we get wet walking out to the car. Just as I was busy making my decision a powder blue minivan pulled up in front of my window. A van this large can haul up to 8 passengers, yet there was only one inside. An older lady was driving; whose hair almost reminded me of my late grandmother Katie’s. White, short and full of large curls as if she just had came back from the salon. Slowly exiting her driver’s seat she reached back and pulled out a large walker, she seemed to be struggling a bit but ended up maneuvering it out all by her lonesome. Scooting up slowly to the entrance my waitress opened the doors graciously for her to get in and out of the rain. “One” she motioned with her hand to the hostess who escorted her to her table. Paying no attention to my daughter, I noticed she had been licking the syrup out of the cup with her finger. This time I looked at her and paused, I began to tear up, not a sigh left my mouth as it did before, no frustration, just joy and thankfulness filled my heart. Obviously, she is not used to me reacting this way so her look of concern back at me was full of a different emotion, possibly intimidation, confusion, or fear.

This early morning visit to Denny’s could be viewed a few different ways. One would be that the purpose of even being here in the first place was to spend some time with my daughter, which I failed at miserably.  Another thought would be what a depressing morning I created, I mean a waitress that is in -competent and cannot even pour me a cup of coffee. Combine that with being surrounded by all these older people I have nothing in common with, a daughter who is not following any direction, all while the dreary weather surrounded the diner bringing us even deeper into our depressions. All of these examples are single thoughts that ran randomly through my head in my corner booth over coffee.

Feeling overwhelmed with emotion, I immediately missed my husband and other 2 kids. My mom and dad, In laws, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends all went through my mind. Here I am stressing about sticky syrup, a 3 year old, the weather and my coffee, when all of what matters in life is passing me by. Every minute in that old corner booth will be engraved into my brain forever. The waitress who struggled at her job, may be worrying about something so much bigger then serving me breakfast and pouring me coffee. The two older men sitting behind me speaking of how life used to be, their declining health and their deceased wives made me feel guilt as I was just minutes ago reacting to a 3 year olds arm in my pancake like it was the end of the world. Never to forget the lone lady exiting her empty minivan in the rain, scooting into the diner with pride, confidence and hair done up just like my late grandmothers. The morning wasn’t depressing it was inspiring, eye opening and a true lesson from God. All over coffee in a corner booth on a rainy morning.

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