Yesterday, I drove down to Montgomery to visit my grandfather who broke his leg a couple of weeks ago. He is now in a rehab facility, and two of my cousins I rarely see were driving over from Georgia to see him. Though it really wasn't what I wanted to do, I did it. I had been feeling guilty for not having seen him since he fell, and I am constantly wondering which visit will be the last. But there was a big party planned for all the families from our baseball team in Gardendale, and I really wanted to go since I haven't seen so many of them since the World Series. But family won out, and off I went down I-65.
My grandfather is old, and that's putting it mildly. He turns 91 next week I think, and his age definitely shows. He had always been tall and thin, but now his frame is hunched over and frail. And his memory is scattered and confused. We all arrived there to visit him and found him in the hallway, sitting in his wheelchair, head over to the side, fast asleep. And he was incredibly surprised to see us, though he had been told that my two cousins would visit that day. We found a place to sit and visit, and after we had be talking a while, he grinned the biggest grin and said to us, "I just can't believe you all came to visit me today. I just can't believe it." He was just so happy - so very happy to see us all there together. He had his wife, three of his granddaughters, and three great-grandchildren there to see him, and I think it made him the happiest man in the world that day.
Sometimes, it just feels nice to make someone happy. To give someone a reason to smile. And in that moment where I realized how special he felt to have us all there, I was so glad I made the right decision about my day. That's a part of life that is so hard sometimes - taking advantage of small opportunities to just make someone happy.
On the way home, there was a man walking north in the center of the interstate. Kinda strange to see someone right there in the middle. The grass and weeds were high around him - probably up to his knees. He had on faded blue jeans and a red tee shirt, and there was a white bandanna wrapped around his head. He wasn't carrying anything - not a bag or a drink in his hand or a gas can or a cardboard box sign. Nothing. There was no abandoned car anywhere around him. And he wasn't holding up a thumb to bum a ride. He was just steadily walking right in the middle of that grass facing north. And I felt sad for him. I wondered about what had brought him there to that place in his life - headed north on a thoroughfare meant for cars, not walkers, having nothing but the clothes on his back. Did he have family? Was there someone, somewhere who loved him and was looking for him? Is he a drug addict? Is he mentally ill? Or is he just a broken lost soul who was never made to feel special by anyone in particular? Does anyone care enough about him to go out of their way to make him smile?
It's in moments like these that I feel so blessed for so many reasons. And I don't understand why I feel so drawn to people's stories, but I do. I don't know what it means - why I have this fascination with people and what they are going through and how they have come to be who they are. But I am fascinated, and I don't know if I have some sort of calling I am missing out on or if it's just some weird fixation on all different kinds of people. But in that moment that I saw the man in the red shirt, I wished it were safe enough for me to stop and ask him some questions and see if there were anything I could do for him. But it's not safe, and I'm sure his situation isn't that simple. So I guess a prayer for him will have to do.
So, I am incredibly blessed. I have so many people who care about me. But I also have so many I care about. And that is equally as rewarding as having those who care about you - if not more. It is true that the rewards of serving someone, no matter how small the act are far greater than being served. And so I think I will try each day to find little ways to serve those around me. And I will try to remember to pray for those I can't reach.