My second waitressing job was in a pancake house. I learned quickly that most of the customers were regulars. Many of them were older couples. There was the woman who was a psychic and her very quiet husband. He hated when she would talk about her gift. It made him feel uncomfortable. She did read my palm once to his dismay. She told me I would marry the guy I was with. I was only seventeen so the thought of marriage was way off. She was right, I did marry him. She also said I would have three children and I do. Even though her predictions came true, I take them very light heartedly. There was the school bus driver and his wife. I loved this couple. We would talk for hours about trains and the Amish country and anything in between. He had the brightest twinkle in his eye and she had the warmest smile. They were the type of people who made you feel safe. The type you could call from anywhere at anytime and they would come to your rescue. When I left the pancake house to go to a bigger chain restaurant they followed. My heart always soared when I saw their faces. My heart broke when I found out the husband died. I still receive a card from her on occasion more than a decade later. Many of my regular customers were older so I had to endure the heartache of losing them forever. I was touched by all of them, but there was one couple that will forever occupy my mind. I called them my grandparents. They were the cutest pair. We had long chats about their life. She couldn’t have children because of a tipped uterus. Back in her day there was nothing that could be done to fix the problem so they had to accept they would be childless. I explained to them that I never met my father’s parents and wished so badly that I did. She offered to be my grandmother and her husband my grandfather. I fell in love with them. They were precious to me as I was to them. We lived in a small town, so when she suddenly died of a heart attack word reached us quickly. I remember going to her wake and seeing him there and thinking how sad he must be. How alone he must feel. No children, no siblings that I knew of. All he had was his girls. We were his girls, me and another waitress. The first time I saw him after his wife died I almost cried. He tapped his heart and smiled. Immediately I thought he was telling me his heart was broken. I was shocked when he pulled out my senior picture. He said “here you are, close to my heart.” I gave him the picture months before and he did tell me he would keep it in his pocket close to his heart but I was shocked to see he still carried it.  He still placed it inside the pocket of his shirt each day to remind him of me. I told him, “We’re going to visit you and keep you company.” I made good on my promise, my husband (boyfriend at the time) stopped for a gallon of ice-cream and dessert and trekked up to his home in the mountains. We spent a wonderful night with a beautiful man. As we pulled up his driveway the first thing I noticed was a Beware of dog sign. He opened his side door and excitedly waved as if he couldn’t believe we actually came. “Come in, come in, I have been waiting for you.” We sat at his kitchen table and talked. He took out my picture and explained to my husband how he always has it close to his heart. I asked where the dog was and burst out laughing when he told me there was no dog they just put up the sign to scare off intruders. He gave us a tour of his modest home. He tearfully told us how he found his wife in the bathroom the day she died. My soul ached for his loss but I admired how strong he was. “I have a surprise for you guys wait right there.” My husband and I looked at each other puzzled. We could hear him in the next room fiddling around with something but had no idea what it could be. “I’m ready,” he called out. We went in to find him dancing in the living room, twirling about. His arms fluttered in the air like wings. A record on an old turn table played a melody from the fifties. I have to be honest, at first I was like-what is he doing. But then I realized he was so happy to have company that it made him want to dance. We ended the night with a big hug and another promise to return. Soon after that night life changed for me. I was a senior in high-school. With less than a month left to graduation my parents house caught fire and we lost everything in it. My priorities shifted, I was busy helping my parents and consoling my family. My already hectic schedule became even crazier. I had class night (a senior skit), prom, senior day, graduation, the all night party and many trips to the laundromat to try and salvage whatever clothes were left. The smell of smoke was so strong even after three washes that we ended up throwing most away. I left the pancake house and went on to the bigger chain restaurant. After everything settled I started thinking of my grandfather (aka-my regular). I couldn’t believe how I forgot about him. When I saw my other regulars walk in to the restaurant I instantly asked them if they knew how he was doing. (They lived close to him). “I’m afraid he died honey,” was not the words I wanted to hear. I was also informed that a nephew (I didn’t know he had) of his was robbing him right before he died. I wanted to throw up. I still do every time I think of it. It’s a heavy stone upon my heart. To think I was the one he carried close to his heart and he died without me telling him how much of my heart he had. It is one of my biggest regrets in life. To honor him, I am letting everyone here in the blogging world know-Once I met a couple- an extraordinary man and woman who offered me a part of their life. And the part I took will be forever incomplete because I never got to say goodbye to either one. I never returned and now I never can. I wonder how long he kept my picture in his pocket and was there a point he took it out and thought she broke my heart.

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