Summertime is one of the great times of the year.
I must confess I enjoyed summertime more when I was a youngster than now. Maybe it had to do with not going to school every day. Or, maybe it was the fact that there were so many wonderful, exciting things to do in the summer.
Or, maybe I am just too old and tired to do anything exciting in the summertime or any other time, for that matter.
One unchanging aspect of summer is vacation. Summer is the perfect time to get away and take a little vacation.
As I get older, it seems the best part of vacation time is coming home. Will I ever get to that advanced age where the best part of a vacation is not going anywhere?
Last week I took a little vacation time and went to Pennsylvania. I grew up in Pennsylvania (of course my wife doesn’t think I’ve grown up yet). It was the scene of many wonderful childhood memories.
The older I get the more I remember of my childhood. In fact, the memory of my childhood is so good, I can remember things that never really happened.
I really did not plan to go to Pennsylvania this year, but it worked out that way, so I made the most of my time.
The best part of going back home is visiting the good country restaurants in Lancaster County. Say what you will, but there is nothing like good old fashion Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.
They have a wonderful saying there, “Kissin’ don’t last, cookin’ does.”Believe me, they live and diet by that saying.
Unfortunately, my wife did not accompany me on my little vacation. Fortunately, she was not there to tell me what I could or could not order in the restaurant. Forced to eat by myself in the restaurant, I was free to order whatever I wanted.
I have always wondered about one thing. Whoever said a person could only order one dessert? Although my wife was not with me, I thought of her every time I ate. For example, at dessert time, in her honor, I ordered desserts for both of us. I’m just that kind of thoughtful husband.
One morning I went, per usual, to a nearby restaurant for breakfast. A hearty country breakfast is the foundation for a good day. When my order came, I delved right in.
Just as I was getting started, an elderly couple walked passed and was seated in the booth right next to me.
I must confess I am an incurable people watcher. I love watching people, especially while they are eating. You can tell a lot about a person by what they order and how they eat.
This elderly couple fascinated me.
They shuffled past me and immediately caught my attention. The gentleman was dressed in country attire and appeared to be a retired farmer. He had a shock of white hair that looked like it had not had a relationship with a comb since Eisenhower was president.
The most outstanding thing about his appearance was his smile. He had a hilarious smile all across his face as though someone just told him the world’s funniest story. As he shuffled, he chuckled.
The Mrs. was just as remarkable. Her wrinkled face literally danced with merriment. I smiled as I watched her. When her order came and she started eating, I noticed she did not have a tooth in her mouth. Every time she chewed her chin slapped her nose.
The most outstanding feature of this couple was that they were obviously in love with life and with each other.
They literally enjoyed each other’s society and were not ashamed for the world to notice them. Their smile stained faces hinted at a life lived on the sunny side of the street.
I wanted to slip into the booth with them and bask in their charm hoping that some of it would rub off on me. Watching them I silently prayed, “Oh, Father, that’s what I want to be like when I am at their stage in life.”
Then something inside me said, “Pay for their breakfast.” At first, the thought startled me. I’ve never done such a thing before in my life. I did not know these people. They did not know me. But, I could not get away from that thought.
When I went to the cashier to pay for my breakfast, I asked the lady, “Would you do me a favor? See that couple over there in the booth? I want to pay for their breakfast.”
She looked at me a little strange but quickly got their bill before I changed my mind.
“Whom should I tell them paid for their breakfast?” she asked as she rung up both checks.
“Just tell them a minister wanted to do them a favor.”
I often thought about that couple since. It didn’t cost me much to buy their breakfast. I wondered if anyone ever did them a favor before like that. I wonder what they told their friends.
Several days later, I was having lunch with several other people. In the course of our ordering lunch, my order was mixed up. My companions were a little indignant and complained about the terrible service. I was on vacation so I had no time restraints and patiently waited for my meal.
When the time came to pay for lunch, the waitress apologized to me for the mix up and did not charge me for my lunch.
In my crude calculations, the amount I paid for the elderly couple’s breakfast was smaller than the “free” lunch I enjoyed several days later.
In my room that evening my attention was drawn to a verse in the Bible. “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” Ecclesiastes 11:1 KJV).
You cannot find what you have not cast.