Recent Tweets in the eMotion Cafe

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Secrets to a Life of True Love and an Enduring Marriage

The old man shuffled into the eMotion cafe, brushing the rain drops from his weathered North Face windbreaker. He had a limp and moved very slowly, choosing his steps carefully. As he got to the counter, he forced a smile and asked for a small black coffee, unsweetened.

"Just a small, black coffee? Any room for cream or sugar?" I asked?

"None of that for me, young fella," he replied, as he offered a forced smile.

 "Mind if I make you a fresh pot?" I asked. The morning rush was hours ago and I had only had one customer, since.

 "What?" He asked, as he moved closer?

I replied in just a little bit louder and a tiny bit slower, "Do you mind if I brew a fresh pot of coffee for you? There's not much left in the pitcher and it's a few hours old."

 "Oh, that'd be just fine," he said, "I have Nothing but Time."

As I was grinding the fresh beans, I watched the elderly man as he looked around the empty coffee shop for a long while. He pretended to look at the new Chris Vance artwork hanging on the wall near the windows beside him. He looked puzzled at the character's uniqueness. But, smiled, finally, at the portrait of a young boy in a SuperHero mask. He sat down in several of the chairs. Then, a photo of my Grandparents on the far wall caught his eye. He moved closely to the photo and began to study it carefully.

After a full minute or two, he moved slowly away to the window, where he gazed out at the pouring rain and the storm outside.  Then, he wandered back up to the counter, just as I had finished pouring the fresh grinds into the filter.

"It'll be just one more moment... I'm sorry for making you wait" I told him, as he approached the counter.

"Oh, no hurry young fella..." He shot back, "...when you get as old as I am, you're just Happy for each Moment left," he said.

He stood at the counter. Looking directly at me. He was patiently waiting for me. He was fixed on me. It was only he and I in the eMotion cafe. It was pouring outside. And suddenly... Time stopped.

He glided across the Silence between us and began to hum a song. It was a lonely song that was sung by older, wiser voices that I hadn't heard since I was a child and used to visit my Great Grandma at her tiny little house in New Mexico.  Her husband had passed years earlier and she used to sing all the time in that house. Song was her company. And, I think she was singing to him.  Maybe wherever he was, he heard her. But, those Songs. I'll never forget them.

And as suddenly as he started Singing, he stopped. I could feel his gaze upon me, now, heavier than it was before.

I was busy doing Something. Really, it was Nothing. But, I pretended it was Anything Else, because it was easier than being right There, right Now.

He would have none of that.

"Son, can I share with you some Secrets?" He asked.

As many of you know, the eMotion Cafe tends to be a place where Secrets are revealed and Ignorance is illuminated without Fear of Judgement or Retribution.

But, I digress...

"Of course," I excitedly replied, "I'm all for learning the Secrets of the Universe and Our Hearts. Whichever."

He smiled the kind of smile that springs from your heart only when you're given a chance in Life to share Your Story.  It's the Smile of Immortality. It's the smile that precedes Redemption and Rebirth. It was that Smile.

His voice cracked a bit as he tried to begin. He cleared his throat, and shared his Story, "I've been married for 53 years, son. But, my lovely wife passed years ago..."

"I'm sorry to hear that, sir" I offered to fill the silence that grew as his gaze drifted back to the windows and the rain, outside.

"Yes... Yes..." he returned, "Yes, well She was a Saint of a woman. She endured my Ignorance and taught me that I wasn't nearly as Smart as I thought she was. She blessed me by Loving me through it all. And She taught me many, many Things. But,  I'm gonna tell you a few Secrets while that there coffee finishes brewing.  I noticed you're not married..." He started.

"Oh, no. No, I'm not. I was. Then I wasn't. And I thought I was going to be, but it didn't happen. And now, I.. It won't be much longer, just another minute or two," I informed him, apologetically.

Then, he continued, "I suspect that those people in that picture on the wall, back there, that They knew these Secrets, too. Did you know them?"

"They were my Grandparents. This cafe was mostly my Grandma's idea. She seemed to think I was good at making things. Like coffee.  And Stories, I guess. So, I keep their photo, here, to remind me of Why I'm here.  They were married for over 50 years, too," I told him.

"Did she tell you any of the Secrets to a Life of True Love and an Enduring Marriage?" he inquired.

"No, no, we never talked of that," I answered. "...Mostly, we talked about the kids and Church and how I didn't make it to Church quite as often as I should have."

"Ah," He smiled, again, "Maybe They sent me here to talk to you today. This is how the Universe works, young fella."

I admit it: I kinda chuckled. And I believed him. Stranger Things have happened.

"So, what did they send you, here, to tell me?" I had to ask. Because Things Like This happen for a Reason.

"Well, young fell, here's the Secret to a Life of True Love and an Enduring Marriage: "Don't quit."

"Huh?" I asked, "That's the Secret to a Life of True Love and an Enduring Marriage?  How's that?"

"Well," he began, again, "That's what I said. Don't Quit. And don't look all confused. It's not that hard. We make Love too hard, nowadays with all those gadgets and gizmos, but Nothing compares to Being Present in your relationship. You young people have too many distractions. In my day, we married our sweethearts. We came home. We talked. We went for walks. We didn't believe in Divorce. We didn't think it was OK to quit. We didn't have all these gadgets and gizmos and we were so much more Connected to each other than you young people are nowadays.  Each of those distractions is an Opportunity to Quit being in or creating a moment with Someone Special. It's quitting, all the same, young fella.  You know what the greatest Betrayal of all is in Love and Marriage? The greatest Betrayal in any relationship is to not be Present for your partner. For every talk. In every moment. It's disrespectful and arrogant to think that the Love of your Life deserves anything less than your full Attention."

I was stunned.

I thought back to the dozens of times every hour I texted, emailed, phoned, watched tv and hung out with Others in my relationships. I was rarely Present.  All those Digital Screens in my life that enabled me to view into so Many Places and Worlds kept me from seeing what was right in front of me: Someone Who Loved Me.

He must've seen the Realization on my face. But, instead of backing off, he continued, with Inspiration: "And another Thing, you young people don't get - it's not Love or Marriage when you quit. With any new relationship, the first time you choose your Love, you choose that Love based on the Hopes and Promises that lay before you both. But, times will always get tough. Life happens. Wars happen. Death happens. Illness happens. Distance happens. But, you don't quit.  Love isn't great until it's chosen AGAIN with full Awareness of the weakness, faults, and ugliness of your Love. The second time you choose your Love, you forge that Love in the fires of Forever because you've chosen to embrace Love truely, with full understanding that the Love of your Life is simply this: Worth Suffering For.  There are no great Love Stories where Love doesn't become True Love through that process. My dear wife, if you only knew how many times she forgave me for my Ignorance and Weakness. She had far more Forgiveness for me than I ever had Opportunity with her. She was a good woman. A good soul.  Every day with her was a Blessing.  And one day those Blessings end.  It is no surprise that She got to Heaven before me.  But, the way I see it, the Good Lord needs his Angels, too."

The coffee had finished brewing long ago. It was beginning to cool.

I sat with the Secrets to a Life of True Love and an Enduring Marriage for a few moments.  I looked him in the eyes. Fully present, and then spoke: "No charge on the coffee, sir" I told him, "Thank you for waiting...And thank you. Truly. I'm quite sure that if my Grandmother were here at this moment, and she may be, that She would agree with you entirely, and thank you for Sharing."

While I poured the good sir his small black coffee, unsweetened, he offered again, more quietly and with certainty:  "Don't Quit.  Be Present. Choose to Love through the Pain. Those are the Secrets to Happiness with Someone Special."

He carefully picked up the mug of coffee, turned and shuffled back to the chair by the window, and sat.  He looked out into the rain for a very, very long time with his only companions: The Secrets to a Life of True Love and an Enduring Marriage.

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