Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Close Encounter With . . . A Jar of Honey (Originally Written 2006)

I blew it.

For several days I had intended to stop at Food Lion to pick up the dark, rich, raw honey that I haven’t found anywhere else.  But it isn’t exactly on my way home so I put it off.

Tonight I will go.  And pick up some chicken, as well.

Driving down Lebanon Road, passing Donelson Pike, where I usually turn to go home, I need to go further down Lebanon Road to Stewarts Ferry, turn right, drive about three more miles, stop at Food Lion, get the honey, get the chicken, and head for the house.

Traffic slows to a crawl and just before the light at Donelson I notice Apple Market which sits next to Blockbuster at the corner of Lebanon Road and Donelson Pike.  I have the strongest urge to pull in and try my luck here.  Thinking they just might have raw honey and that would save me going out of my way to Food Lion.

I am mulling this over in my brain and traffic is now moving forward.  Should I, shouldn’t I . . . the driveway entrance for the market is right here on my right.  MAKE A DECISION!  Swerving right and deciding simultaneously, I pull into the market parking lot.  If they have the honey, I’ll just get the chicken here also. I enter through the automated doors and notice an elderly white haired, small-statured gentleman sitting on a bench right next to the door.  Probably waiting on a shopper who brought him along, I think.

On to the honey.  I’m unfamiliar with this market but reading the signs high above the aisles I notice the jam/jelly/peanut butter aisle. Usually where the honey is kept.  Ahh, there it is. Honey.  But not the dark raw kind I like.

Oh, well; on to Food Lion. Won’t save myself the extra drive after all.

As I head towards the door I notice the little old man again.  Still waiting.  His solemn, almost severe expression and his size reminds me of my own dear little daddy. Who departed this world four years ago this month. I wonder if this old man’s serious expression is the result of frustration at having to wait, or worse, maybe confusion, if he has memory problems.

Barely conscious of thinking it as I hurry out the door, a thought flits across my mind.  Go over there and sit down next to him and talk to him.  Tell him he reminds you of your daddy.  And give him a hug. The dialogue continues in my mind as I reach my car.  What?  Don’t be silly.  People don’t just stop and talk to strangers.  In grocery stores or anywhere else.  Besides, I have to finish my errand and get home some time tonight.

SO off I go.  As I drive away, headed to Food Lion, I start to cry.  Thinking of my dear little daddy, and this dear little old man who is somebody’s daddy.  We all become someone’s dear old daddy or dear old mom at some point.  If we live long enough.  So I think on these things, and ponder the strength, the frailty, the stages of life, and cry about it all as I drive on to get my honey.

It isn’t until after I left Food Lion with my good dark raw honey, and my chicken, AND a couple of other things that my thoughts return to the little old man in the Apple Market.  Sitting on the bench.  Waiting.

Suddenly a light bulb goes off in my brain and I realize the reason I felt the urge to pull in to Apple Market wasn’t because the honey was there and I was to get it.  It was because the little old man who reminded me of my daddy was there and I was to sit and talk with him.  And give him a hug.

       And I blew it.

Through the years, I’ve learned to trust my gut, my feelings, to listen to the urgings of my heart.  Most of the time.  I’ve come to believe that every thing we say or do matters.  I believe we entertain angels unawares.

And something else I’ve learned.   Sometimes, without our knowing and for reasons we don’t understand, just for a moment, or an hour, in a conversation or a few words with a stranger, or a friend, God lets us stand in for one of His angels.

If we’re listening.