He was sitting next to me and though he looked like an Adonis his cracked and dried out hands betrayed him.
I saw my ancestors in the lines that connected to create this being. His dark, rich, dipped in ash complexion couldn’t hide the feeling of sadness that I felt as he spoke with me.
It was 8yrs Sandra had departed this life he told me and that was the last day he was happy. “Yes ma’am” he said “she was a great cook who made sure I had a hot lunch to take to work everyday “. He shared that for the last 8yrs he had eaten hot dogs for many lunches and dry biscuit with tea for breakfast and dinner.
Just a passenger on the train having a conversation with me and somehow in that moment I knew I didn’t want to reach a point in my life being lonely. To be alone and lonely are two completely different things. I enjoy being alone for it refreshes and recharges my soul but loneliness; is a definite death sentence.
He shared that they were married for 36yrs and bore four beautiful children.He shared some wisdom with me “Parents don’t like to burden their children they have their lives ahead of them”. I was wiser for listening, for the views of my parents became much more clearer and appreciative.
I allowed this being to pour out his memories of yesteryear, hopes of tomorrow and dreams of a future yet to come. He shared that when he courted Sandra her brothers had given him a black eye with the promise to brake several bones in his body if he came again asking to court her. “I didn’t care if they had beaten me to death all I knew is I loved her and she was going to be my wife…and I was right!!!” His eyes lighted up and I could imagine the young vibrant man he used to be. Not wanting to intrude but needing to explore further for my own of satisfaction I asked what was his biggest accomplishments to date. He told me that having his children and being a father to them since he never knew his own father and that every thing he had learned about this important role was through trial and error. He stated ” I wasn’t always right but I was a better man for trying and learning what is right”
I was not fortunate to be born with a golden spoon in my mouth he exclaimed; but my children are my pride and joy. They are my heritage and I’ve done all I can to ensure their future supercedes mine.
He showed me his hands palms facing up… “I’ve been a steel bender and these hands have provided me with my daily bread”. We chatted callously about the weather and the humdrum of folks running to enter the train but missing it by a millisecond.
Without warning he got up “young lady this here is my stop” with extended hands I reached out and shook his hands those dried, cracked hands. “What’s your name”? I asked. He left me with these words “next time you pass a skyscraper this side of town remember me the man whose hands bend the steel to lay the foundation”
I believe that we don’t meet people by chance and that our meeting was so that I could bring a little sunshine in his life by regurgitating beautiful memories of a woman he had so loved. I learnt that day that we all want to be remembered for something REMARKABLE we have done and that a measure of a man is not measured by his name but rather by the WORKS he has done!