I’m in the airport waiting for my flight back to Britain. I came back to America to visit my uncle with terminal cancer. I have a purple rubber Pancreatic Cancer Awareness band around my wrist.
My mother and I drove back to Tampa together while my dad stayed up north with the rest of the family for a few days, though he arrived to see me off before my transatlantic journey. We had driven in total nearly 2300 miles at the end of the trip.
It’s amazing how a small gesture can touch your heart sometimes. As we drove home Mom and I stopped at a little restaurant somewhere in…South Carolina? Georgia? Somewhere. It was called Fusion Bowl. I was suspicious of the potential quality of the food, but it turned out to be pretty good Chinese and Japanese.
Anyway, we had this waiter called Matthew. Soft-spoken but very attentive. When I said I didn’t want too large a dish because we’d be on the road and couldn’t take it with us, he asked where we’d been. I said we’d come from Pennsylvania and he said, “Wow, that’s a long way.” As we were finishing up and dealing with the check he explained that he was an army brat and his family was from Kansas, and that he knew what long drives were like. He told us to drive real carefully. He offered us some drinks to go on the road with us. He asked us if we needed directions.
Mom and I talked in the car about what a sweet young man he was, even though the drinks-to-go thing is really a Southern custom everywhere. It was the way he offered, like he genuinely wanted to be a help on our long trip. Such a small thing, and so greatly appreciated.
Before we left on the last day, my uncle turned to me and my mom and said, “The world is so full of wonders. It’s amazing to see them.” He has always been a traveler on journeys both intellectual and geographical. It was a real wonder to share that moment with him.