I met Shamus on Sunday. His greeting caught me off guard.
“Kombucha—that’s good stuff!”
“It sure is.” I said somewhat awkwardly, post gulp, not sure where the conversation was headed.
He was wearing a black blazer, dirty and slightly disheveled along with a straw hat which led me to wonder what kind of hairstyle he had hidden beneath.
He was liberal with conversation both in content and cadence. “I just got out of the hospital after a two month stay. The nurses, the doctors—they were all so kind and generous and caring.”
“There’s a lot of power in community.” I said. Glad you found a place to feel safe and cared for.”
“I was locked up there, but they let us out for fresh air. Have hyponatremia, low blood sodium. Got me up to 2100mg. Hard to do.”
“Potato chips”, I said. We laughed.
He sat at his table holding a formerly lit cigarette that I presume he held onto for comfort. He stared into my eyes and I into his. I felt safe in this space. I like to chat with strangers, but I also tend to break eye contact frequently and look off to the right. This probably means something. It was different with Shamus. I didn’t feel ill at ease. I settled in while standing up. He was sharing and I was listening. No need to move on quickly.
My son finally caught up with me. He had been waiting in line simply to say goodbye and thank you to the lady behind the coffee bar. “Just wave goodbye and shout out ‘thank you’!”, I said. “No mom, I want to be polite and wait my turn”. I like that about my little human. Patience mom. Patience.
Little man met Shamus. They were instantly taken by one another.
“So, you’re a pilot?” said Shamus, clearly complimenting my son who was wearing his military flight suit for the 3rd day in a row.
“Yes I am! I fly an F-22 Raptor and an F/A-18 Hornet. My favorite is the Blackbird. In fact, it’s still up there now. I had to parachute down. My co-pilot is probably still waiting for me.”
Santa Shamus engaged with smiling eyes and sweet laughter. My son lapped it up and embraced Shamus with all of his childhood acceptance. The two carried on. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. My husband called me twice, wondering where we were. He was back at the car waiting to move on. We weren’t. My son and I were in a moment; in that moment.
Shamus gave me ten minutes of his time that day and my son and I gave him a combined ten.
This stranger reached out and we reached back. Maybe that’s what Sundays are for. The lessons keep coming, one Sunday at a time.