Picture this. The main street of town ends in a “T” on the waterfront at the Bay. This is a small town, a handful of shops and restaurants, and no chain stores (except maybe the hardware store but it retains its small town flavor). At the bottom of the street is a small wharf where the ferry used to run across the bay until the bridge was built in 1969. No matter, the area is still called East Ferry.
There is a small indy coffee shop with an outdoor patio overlooking the bay. The town is, as yet, thankfully undiscovered. My father went to the coffee shop every morning at 6:30 to meet his buddies. They sat outside and chatted and worked crossword puzzles. They had a community. The friends were all in their seventies or older. I stopped in recently on a Sunday and spoke to the baristas – they knew the schedule of this group – they would be in after church today according to the baristas. I was hoping to say hello to the group, but I didn’t realize that, like many of their generation, they were faithful churchgoers. I saw them in July and I’ll catch them next time.
Although my dad was an introvert, he almost never missed a day at the deli during his summers on the island. In fact, last fall he was taken by ambulance to the hospital with a severe case of bronchitis. He was not admitted, but the next day he stayed home. The day after though, much to our surprise, he was at the deli – still feeling awful, but wanting that community. In Florida, he didn’t have a group or a deli, but he started going to the clubhouse in the early morning and having coffee with the kitchen workers. Gradually he built up a small community there as well.
I am blessed to have my own group of “dames at the deli” – once a week we meet for breakfast and fellowship. But I think I might like to have a small town tradition of daily community at the deli. I am coming to realize I may be missing out.
This morning my friend Sarah sits by the bedside of her father, one of the members of the deli group. He is in hospice and his breathing is slowing down. We exchanged text messages this morning encouraging one another on this difficult road as we journey alongside our loved ones as they pass from this world to the next.
We are privileged to have the time to honor the legacy of our fathers as they make the journey from this world.