As we begin to age, our social circles naturally start to dwindle when the people close to us transition from this world to the next. A friend of mine, who happens to be a priest, once told me that loneliness experienced by those who are elderly is something he witnesses daily – and it is a heartbreaking epidemic.
One recent Sunday, I was dining out with family and in the booth behind ours sat a man and woman who had to have been in their late 80s or early 90s. They were dressed for church, and I assume they came to the restaurant after attending services. They arrived in separate cars (yes, each was still driving at an advanced age). I know this because I watched them as they left the restaurant and made their way to their vehicles. Both were extremely frail. The man had a cane and the woman was using a walker.
Although I didn’t want to eavesdrop, I couldn’t help but overhear a part of their conversation as they were getting ready to leave.
It went like this:
The elderly gentleman said to his dining companion, “I sure enjoy your friendship.”
“Me, too,” she replied. Then she added, “You didn’t have to buy my dinner.”
There was a brief lull in the conversation.
“That’s OK,” he said. “I don’t have a wife to buy for anymore.”
There was another pause.
“Well, 'til we meet again,” the woman said as she started to slide out of the booth.
“Yep,” said the gentleman, who added, “If the creek don’t rise.”
And with that, they slowly made their way toward the door.
What I overheard was simultaneously heartbreaking and heartening. It is so hard when those we love are no longer with us. But I am happy these two souls have formed a friendship in the winter season of their lives. God is good.