The first thing I did on Thanksgiving after foraging for coffee was take a long, lazy walk. I didn’t even run. I just wanted to be quiet with nature as my consort. I was thrilled to find the park peaceful at 7 am without a race going on; no whistles or irate bikers blasting directives in my ear.
Parade attendees casually strolled alongside runners and others walking their dogs. Central Park was exactly how Olmstead and Vaux, its creators, intended it to be; a peaceful refuge for all to reflect and take rest.
I did see a French woman I know that I’ll call Simone. She was walking Aida, her pit mix, so I stopped for a little impromptu doggie nuzzle.
The first thing she did was launch into a tirade over the helicopters circling overhead. According to her it costs the tax payers 2000 dollars per hour to have them cluttering up our holiday sky.
She then complained about the weather; it was too cold, followed by a rant concerning her apartment that seemed to have been too hot. I politely listened but finally had to escape the toxins, with an accent no less, spewing into the crisp, morning air. My heart went out to Aida who unfortunately couldn’t come.
Do you know what I know about Simone?
She’s in her early 60s in magnificent health. She has a successful son who visits often. Her town house, which she owns, is across from The Carlyle Hotel and is positively breathtaking. She paints every day in a sky lit loft above her living room causing her never to miss a sunset unless by choice.
If I wasn’t getting so good at minding my own business I would have stopped her in mid gripe to remind her how much she had to be grateful for.
This went on throughout the day. I made stops at 2 different neighborhood coffee shops to wish my neighbors well. The Upper East Side is truly like Mayberry with everyone knowing everyone.
One fellow was livid because the delivery boy was taking too long and can’t the cook cook faster?
A famous singer, who I will benevolently keep nameless, was having a fit because his pancakes were late.
Some woman dropped all of her change and accused the waiter, who bent down to help her, of pocketing some. That’s when I could no longer mind my own business. I took a 5 dollar bill out of my parka pocket, slammed it at her feet and said, “here, does that cover it?”
My peace was compromised to say the least.
I then went to another place and was greeted by one of the owners. He was happy and gracious with a smile that could melt ice. He asked me if I was going anywhere special and when I said no said, “please, come here, eat turkey with me and my children. Please, be my guest?”
Generosity never fails to humble me but this particular display brought tears to my eyes because this guy has 4 stage liver cancer.
His handsome head of wavy black hair is no longer and his weight has been cut in half. He can’t work at the moment and someone has to drive him the rare day when he can.
I’m no prophet and pray that I am so, so wrong, but this could very well be his last Thanksgiving yet, grace and humility walked alongside him this day.
I made a gratitude list when I came home that ran several pages.
One of the items listed was the man who invited me to eat with him and his family.
I went by the way. It was amazing.
A toast was made. ‘To Life,’ he said, then we ate.
He smiled all afternoon.
I had 3 pieces of pie; peach, then pumpkin then peach again. (they were small)
He gave me a slice of apple to take home.
As I was leaving I turned to wave.
He was still smiling.