Love, Grace, Gratitude

Clad in exercise togs, the couple entered the pancake restaurant. The wife led. The husband followed, holding the door. Both looked to be late 40’s or early 50’s. The man remarked about the oversized photograph of the restaurant’s specialty, the Dutch baby. The couple were drawn back into memories of baking Dutch babies together in their newlywed basement apartment.

The wife remarked she hadn’t been to the restaurant for years. She had last visited with her father, gone for five years last month. Both fondly remembered how the older man had loved his pancakes.

The hostess stood behind a small counter where a cash register took up half the counter. Partially completed sudoku games from the newspaper littered the counter, evidence of the eager mind she kept busy between customers. She smiled at the couple and took them to an exposed table. Could we sit in one of those tiny booths, the man said, voicing the thoughts of both husband and wife.

I love your ear buds, the hostess exclaimed. The woman was pleased. The hostess reached for them to sample the floral fabric which covered the headphones. The hostess placed the menus and took the shortest path through the restaurant tables, back to her counter, back to her sudoku.

Although the couple appeared to have come into the restaurant for a post-exercise refuel, the truth was that the exercise session had been abruptly cancelled when something was said in the car that took the wife’s breath away, and not in a good way.

The menus lay untouched as the couple delved into the thorny job of untangling the emotions and hurt that were just below the surface. Several minutes later, they were able to order and continued to discuss the issue that has arisen.

Real love was evident between the two, with her tears, his open face, their apologies. In awhile, coffee cups drained, pancakes and omelets consumed, they rose to leave the restaurant. The sudoku girl was friendly as she asked if everything was alright. Yes, they replied.

She said again, I love your ear buds. The woman pulled a small change-purse sized bag, made of the identical fabric the young woman had admired on the headphones. She opened the small purse and pulled out a pair of brand-new ear buds that matched the headphones. I have these as well, said she. Ooh and ahh, said the hostess.

Do you like them, the wife asked? Yes, she replied. May I give them to you, asked the wife? The hostess’s face opened in surprise and joy, yes! The wife closed the small purse and handed them to the hostess, who was clearly excited. I’ve been wanting to get a new pair of ear buds … what’s your name … I’ll think of you every time I wear them … I wear ear buds when I ski … I love to ski.

The husband and wife headed to the door, lighter in many ways. The man leaned close. I knew, he said quietly, that you were going to give those to her. They walked out as he held the door for her, even after all these years, and both were completely transformed by love, grace, gratitude.

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