2015 flew past as all the years seem to do now, each day seemingly shorter. Today as I sit here on December 28 with my doors and windows open to enjoy the warm temperatures and the sound of a slow rain falling in my woods, I wish for many more days like this. Quiet times to observe nature and hear sounds I don't hear when my heat pump is on or my AC is blasting.
I think I need more quiet time like this, but it seems time passes too quickly. Since I found my voice and became the woman I had inside me all these years, there is no end to all the things I want to do, to see, to become part of.
On my way home Sunday, I stopped to eat at a popular steak house. I had totally forgotten it was Sunday. The past few days had seemed like Sunday to me with all the Christmas celebrations going on. With only a choice of sitting at the bar or waiting a long time, I chose the bar. I ended up sitting where the bar curved around and became a table of ordinary height. A single woman sat two seats over and right away she began a conversation. I learned that she was 80 years old and lived alone in Elijay, GA where the steak house was located. She had ordered a hamburger, but I used a gift card I had received and ordered a prime rib dinner. Oh, was it good!
We enjoyed the best conversation while we ate our meal. I don't know her name, and she doesn't know mine. We will not likely ever meet again, but she said she was glad I had sat down beside her because she had enjoyed getting to know me. "I don't like to eat alone," she said.
I think she often eats alone. Her husband is in Alaska. Not for a visit, but he lives there. Her grown children in the Atlanta area seldom come to visit, she told me. But she loves her house in the mountains, being so close to nature, seeing bear cubs and wild turkeys in her yard.
We discussed the health problems that often come with age and how difficult it is to find a doctor who will listen while you tell them what you know about your own body. She said her children have no clue about her health problems, and they don't want to hear about them. She is diabetic with nerve pain in her feet. From our conversation, I can tell she spends much time on the Internet. This made me think again about technology and my love/hate relationship with it. I often feel it takes too much of my time but for this woman, the Internet is her outlet to the world, a place where she continues to learn new things, her way to converse with her family and others.
For over an hour we two strangers ate and conversed. The time passed quickly, and we were both happy that we had come in alone. As my dinner companion said, "I love to talk with strangers. I learn so much that way."
She reminded me of my mother who talked with anyone she met--in line at the store, in the elevator, standing at the meat counter in the super market and always in waiting rooms. I have that gene, too.
If I smile at someone and they smile back, I know they are open to conversation.
Since time is the most precious commodity I own, I hate to waste it. Having dinner conversation with the lady at the steak house was not wasted. She showed me her Fitbit and told me how she used it as a reminder of when to take medication, when to exercise, and many other things that helped her live better. I had thought a Fitbit was just for athletic people to keep up with how many calories they burned, etc. But now I might look into seeing how this new technology could be helpful in my life.
My husband, Barry Beall, liked people and talked to everyone. I wrote this poem before I became one who also talks to strangers.
Never a Stranger
--- for Barry
I watch you and I'm jealous. You talk
to people on the elevator, at the airport
waiting, at the grocery store in front
of the cucumbers.
I stand stiff, my eyes averted from
the woman's eyes, in line at the post office
window. What should I say?
I don't want to be intrusive.
Never lost for words, you smile
and burst right in. The stranger's
eyes light up and suddenly she has
become a friend.
--- by Glenda Council Beall