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Angel in the Booth

Last Sunday we celebrated Grandparents Day. And I suppose the naysayers and cynics were weighing in claiming that it was just another obscure holiday created by greeting card merchants to line their coffers.

Well folks, it ain’t so. The holiday honoring grandparents and commemorating that special bond between grandparents and their families was established by Congress in 1978 and is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

My memory — and when you get to be of a certain age there are many of them — drifts back to a not-too-distant past. Fridays are my eat-out breakfast mornings. And as I sat in my favorite McDonald’s booth, across from me sat an old gentleman —gray, weather-beaten face, gnarled hands from work that I guess wasn’t easy.

Facing him sat a young boy, no more than five, I would say. The boy was telling him about yesterday, excited, animated, both little arms waving in the air. The old gentleman listened, holding a cup of coffee in both hands, shutting out the noise and activity around them, ignoring his hot cakes, which were getting colder and colder.

What struck me was the look on the man’s face — it was so caring, and for lack of a better descriptive word, angelic.

Getting ready to leave, mentally checking off breakfast from that Friday morning’s to-do list, I stopped by their booth.

“Sir,” I said. “I couldn’t help watching you and your grandson. You two were a perfect Norman Rockwell painting.”

He looked at me, nodded in acknowledgement and said, “Well, he’s not really my grandson. His grandparents were lost in a car wreck before he was born. I’m just a neighbor, trying to fill an empty frame on their mantle.”

Those who shrug off Grandparents Day more than likely don’t believe in angels either…