angels unaware

I had to get a key made today. Remember, this is where you come for the hard-hitting breaking news. But seriously. Don’t you think we should be over keys by now? They seem so 18th century. I don’t think the following things fit in our futuristic society: having to make deposits in person (as opposed to on your computer in your own home), CHECKS in general. I should not be writing checks for anything in this day and age, this is the future, and keys. I need everything to get digital faster, and to not be crazy expensive. For my convenience.

So today I went to get a key made at the hardware store, which, coincidentally, will not exist in the future. This is one of those little mom-and-pop places, and there were a couple of seasoned citizens working the key counter. One of the guys came out and reached for Tristan. And if you have a baby, you know these grandpa moments, where they talk to the baby and pull quarters out of his ear and ask confusing questions, all that. So he and Trissy interacted for a minute and then he said something that I interpreted as can the other old guy touch Tristan, and I said sure, but actually it was can the baby have a Tootsie Roll, which has to be some kind of world record for snacks-you-don’t-want-a-baby-to-have, what with the choking and the sugar and the stickiness, but Tristan received it with such joy that I just let him gnaw on it, and the octogenarians were totally delighted. Eventually the other guy wandered off to “take a break”, promising to be back at 1. Now, that would make his break 4 hours long. Either he was pulling my leg, or he might not actually work for the hardware store.

The main guy was 82, he told me. Soon to be 83. Children are so special, he said, and they grow so fast, so enjoy them. I said I would. As he made the key, he said, “We had one… she come out with the cord around her neck. So, she died, that one.” I stood there with my chunky little toddler on my hip, aching to know that he remembered. I asked him how old she would be. “Ah, well. I guess she would be 47 now. My other girl, she’s 45, and my sons are 51 and 52.” Then he was back to the keys. I said something, anything, and he mused about people that are cruel to children, and how he couldn’t understand that, and I agreed with him. He said that it had been nearly 3 years since his wife died, and how much he loved his grandchildren.

Somewhere in there, I forgot to need to be somewhere else, to keep moving, to check my email. I stood and watched him tickle Tristan with his wrinkled hands, his contagious joy. “Thank you.” I said,  as we turned to go, “You’ve blessed us today.”

I don’t know, it was one of those things. I don’t think I can capture the depth, the sweetness, in a snapshot. Angels unaware.

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