Wisdom at the Waffle House

(isn’t that a funny picture?)

Luther is one of my regulars at WH.  Every morning for coffee and scrambled eggs with grits and bacon.  Later in the afternoon for another cup before he goes to pick up his 40-something mentally handicapped daughter from the day care where she has gone so he can have a break.  He is her sole caretaker since his wife died almost 10 years ago.

Luther is 70-something, tall and thin with a tiny pot-belly and kind eyes.  Not just his eyes, but his whole vibe is kindness.  Life has been hard, you can see this in the lines around his eyes and his work-worn hands.  He is one of my very favorite customers, a favorite of all of us WH gals.

He is a simple man, quiet, perhaps a bit shy.  He has lived a good life, a life full of hard work, love of wife and child, devotion to duty.  I watched him suffer as his wife struggled and finally succumbed to breast cancer.  He told me one day about his lunches with her when he worked from home.  I see him hard at work in his garage with noon approaching and his belly getting empty.  I imagine him hankering for some lunchtime repast – soup, perhaps, or a warm, comforting grilled cheese.  I see him coming into the kitchen and finding his wife fixing just that.  He told me this happened again and again.  In the telling, I sensed he was remarking on the connection they had.

Chatting today outside the WH, sharing a companionable smoke, another customer came up.  This old guy is a grumpy old racist redneck that most of the girls won’t wait on.  I handle him pretty well most days.  I told Luther part of the old fart’s problem was that he was raised that way.  Luther’s reply to that was that, well, so was he.  But he made the choice to change.  He said it simple, like he says all things, but it was like a bell going off in my head.  There was no judgement in the statement, but he wasn’t making excuses for the guy like I was, either.  We all have choices, moments in time where we can choose to change or to stay mired in the clay.    I like that.  It has stayed with me all day.  It reminds me of what Tennyson said, “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.”