(kissing market buggy brothers)
I could hear the buzz of his hearing aid long before he spoke. When he did, it was louder than usual and a little bit hoarse but you could tell it was full of pride. He told me how happy it made him to see two brothers loving on each other.
It reminded him of his younger brother, the one he lost only two years before. His brother was 83 at the time. His brother passed of cancer, something he said he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy.
He asked how old the boys were. I told him their ages and that they are twenty-three months apart. He tells me about the sixteen month difference between him and his brother. They were best friends although they could "fight like the best of 'em" he tells me.
His hand trembled as he reached out to touch the toddler's blonde curls. Normally such an act would make my skin crawl but he was so gentle. I tried to imagine how he must have looked when he was younger. I couldn't picture it though- it was difficult to guess his hair color being that he was completely thinned and graying now.
He said his wife had curls like the toddler's. They met in a dance hall in 1939. Her name was Annabelle. She, too, had passed.
As tears began to prick my eyes, he told me again and again how happy it made him to see the two of them together, reaching out to one another over the handle bar of the grocery store push cart. Laughing at each other's jokes, jokes only the two of them could understand.
He asked the toddler for a high five, who was more than willing to oblige. I told him that it was like strolling around with the mayor of the supermarket right there in my own buggy. He waved to everyone, offering up the heartiest of "hello's!"
I could do nothing but smile.
As he turned to shuffle off with his small cart of groceries in tow, he whispered something that didn't resonate with me until I had pulled up alongside our car and began to unload the boys into the car.
Blinking back tears, I buckled each of the boys into their seats. The toddler, no stranger to our usual after-errand tradition of grabbing a cake pop from the Starbuck's drive-thru, had already begun chanting "cake pop! cake pop! cake pop!"
He said "bless you and those brothers" as he turned and shuffled off. Writing about it and I can feel the lump in my throat start to grow once more.
It made me pause right there in the parking lot and think. I really am blessed.
Sure there are days when I'm constantly reminding the toddler to use his "gentle hands" and other days when I'm practically blue in the face from trying to teach him the joys of sharing, but I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more loving big brother. His heart is so big, bigger than I ever thought such a tiny body could hold. I'm so proud of him and the way he loves his brother. It's evident that he loves him with every little bone in his toddler body.
I'm so proud of my husband. I'm proud of us as husband and wife that we've laid the foundation to foster and share a love like that. After all, it starts with us.
I really am blessed and so thankful for the stranger who reminded me so on a day that I sure needed the reminder. As I buckled myself in, I silently whispered a prayer of thanks for him and for those sweet little brothers giggling in the backseat.