Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Lunch A Year For The Rest Of My Life

I could see the people behind him in line shaking their heads in disgust as they looked at this young man...we'll call him "Shawn". From the tattoos that covered seemingly every inch of his exposed skin and the ones the peeked out from beneath his plaid shirt to the piercings on his eyebrows, ears and lip, Shawn stuck out like a sore thumb in the middle of this stereotypical "Leave it to Beaver" suburban town.

The patron's brows were wrinkled as they whispered to one another, clearly passing judgement on not only Shawn's physical appearance, but also his companion. 

"Dad...Dad...Dad...DAAAAAAAAAD?!?!" the little guy squealed.

"What? You're driving me nuts!" Shawn said with a smile.

"Can I have a cookie?" the little boy said with a huge smile in return.

"No. Your mom would kill me because you didn't eat your yogurt like you promised her."

The boy pouted for just a moment and then began to hang on his Dad's tattoo covered forearm, wrapping it around his body while he outlined each speck of ink with his tiny finger, perhaps picturing the day when he could getting a matching tattoo just like the man he so clearly idolized. The man that everyone else in line was condemning because he wasn't what they perceived a "good father" to be. That he was setting a terrible physical example of who and what a man should be to his son.

I was pulled out of my inner rage when the sandwich artist asked me:

"Sir, your sandwich is ready. Will that complete your order?" 

"Actually, I'd like to pay for this gentleman's order as well. And give the kid a cookie, so long as he finishes his yogurt when he gets home." I declared as I smirked at the little boy whose eyes lit up with delight.

Shawn tried to graciously decline my gesture, but I refused to listen. As the sandwich artist rang up the order—complete with a giant M&M cookie— I explained that my father passed away almost two years ago to the day and it was really nice to see a dad and his son love each other so openly and honestly. That since I can't buy my dad lunch anymore, it would be an honor if he would let me buy him and his son lunch today.

Shawn squeezed his son and stuck out his hand in gratitude. As our hands locked together, I could feel his hand trembling. We didn't say another word to each other, but I looked down at his son and said:

"Do me a favor, kid. Go home and eat your yogurt, have a great year at school and take care of your dad for me, okay?"

His son smiled and nodded, scampering out the door with a mouth full of cookie and a lot of questions for his dad to answer on the car ride home.

It felt so good to do that for them that I've decided I'm going to do it every year on or near the anniversary of my dad's passing. To those people in line who were silently judging Shawn: I want you to remember that almost any man can have a child, but not every man can or wants to be a good father. How about we cut some friggin' slack to the one's who are trying to be even if you don't like the way they choose to do it, huh?! Shawn clearly loves his son. Every son should be so lucky and I hope if I ever choose to be a dad I'll be like Shawn. Oh, and I hope they get those matching tattoos someday. :-)

Miss you, Pop. I wish we could've been a little better to each other. Say hi to Angie for me.

Peaceful Things, 

Josh

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Peaceful Things ~ Josh
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