A toast to absent friends
It felt like a winter evening. I sat all alone on a bench in the corner of the park as I watched my niece and nephew go crazy [quite literally] on the swings. I squinted a little looking at them while sipping my tea, when I noticed an elderly woman right behind them in the other corner of the park.
She caught my attention. Maybe it was the fact that she was there all alone. I saw her quietly running her hands through the rosary. For others, she was just another stranger at the park. To me, she reminded me so much of my grandmother who I lost a few years back. I walked up to her and sat on the bench right beside her wheelchair. Her aged hands, the wrinkles, the way she loosely tied the scarf over her grey hair, her shoes — everything was similar to that of my grandmother’s.
I imagine the elderlies of a small, cozy town. A town full of warmth and memories. A town that was once full of life. And as the years passed by, it got worn off yet somehow holding its glory together. A town that now welcomes any visitor to feel full of life again.
This evening, I was the visitor.
I would always notice my grandmother’s hands. It’s one thing I always pay attention to whenever I meet someone of age. I remember how I would sit beside her, holding her hand as we made conversations. She would place her hand on my head and whisper prayers, blessing me with her presence.
The woman in the park asked me what time it is and initiated a chat. We talked about life, just like the conversations I used to have with my grandmother.
“You look pale. You must pay attention to your diet.”
That was her first comment. Reminding me of my grandmother again.
My grandma would always stay concerned about my health. She would tell me to eat healthy, rest better and was always happy whenever I talked about my career and passion. We would sit beside her all evening, tucked in a cozy woolen blanket listening to her stories.
It felt somewhat similar. That day in the park.
I asked the woman if she is all by herself when she pointed at a child on the swings. She was there with her grandchild. She told narrated stories as well. She talked about how she got married and left her country when she was just in her early 20s. She talked about home. She said she missed it, but added the famous old saying “Home is where your heart is” and her heart was here with her family.
We talked for two hours.
My niece and nephew ran up to me, getting all sloppy and tired. As I got up to leave, the woman held my hand and placed hers over my head, whispering prayers. I looked at her with love, and she smiled and said that I remind her of her granddaughter.
It’s funny how we tend to find our loved ones in strangers.
Even those who aren’t around anymore, but will forever be a part of us.
Here’s a toast to absent friends!