Sitting outside Mom’s Apple Pie in Occoquan this morning, having coffee and a pastry… Beautiful morning, hardly anyone even up yet.
A car pulls in, a baby blue Porsche Cayman, guy gets out, lean, maybe 45 years old, with $500 Oakleys perched on his head and a matching blue polo shirt. Scumbag, I think to myself, involuntarily. I can be judgmental sometimes. Certainly he’s here to pick up flavored coffee and some creme brûlée for wife and spoiled brats.
He walks around to the passenger side of the car, and I think, maybe he and his x-ray wife are both here, figuring her for a yoga junkie blonde with lots of work done on her face to have kept her waspish cheekbones and neck still button-cute a few more years. I can’t see inside the car because the windshield has that “I want you to think I’m a CIA agent” one-way mirror sheen.
They can’t see me, either because the blueberry pie I just snarfed down made me invisible or the sun is helping hide me on the unobtrusive bench I’m sitting on drinking my own flavored coffee.
A young man with Downs Syndrome gets out, Dad helping him up, gently. He’s dressed like a fifteen year old but could be 25, Downs rendering age difficult to gauge sometimes.
Up the stairs they come, dad who’s no longer such a dirtbag walking behind his son to make sure he navigates the stairs ok.
“I want some pie,” Timmy says. I don’t know why I think his name is Tim but it popped into my head and the story is easier to tell if I don’t have to keep saying ‘the young man with Downs.’
“What kind do you think you want?” Dad answers. “There’s blueberry and apple and peach and rhubarb and…”
“What’s ‘rugard’, Daddy?”
Dad pulls his son near and gives him a hug, and says he doesn’t actually know but maybe they should try it because it’s supposedly really good.
As they go into Moms, I notice Timmy’s hair is just growing back on the right side from a recent surgery. I unexpectedly tear up, it hits a bit too close to home and reminds me how blessed we are that our own family is so healthy. I wonder if I would be as good a dad as him if things hadn’t worked out as well.
Tim and his dad roll out a few minutes later with a pie and a bag, I figure the pie is apple and the bag has a slice or two of rugarg pie. Still they don’t notice me.
Down the stairs they start, Timmy excited to be out and about, dad with his hand on his son’s shoulder guiding him in case he falls, timmy’s gait being pretty unsteady.
“Which do you think you want to try first, Tim?”
Tim smiles and says “both of them!” Dad laughs and pulls his son in for another hug, and Timmy hugs him back, hard.
As he helps his son back into the car, Dad finally sees me and I say “hey, good morning.”
He replies, “yeah, beautiful out, isn’t it?” Timmy waves at me enthusiastically. I wave back, and dad gets in his beautiful car, seemingly very happy in this moment…
It’s what we do and how we act when we are unobserved that reveals our character. And this gentle and wonderful dad showed his own to me today, and without knowing it inspired this little story. I aim to be less judgmental from now on, wipe the tears from my cheek and head home.