Grocery Store Encounter Leads to a Night of Reminiscing for Widower… and Shows the Power of Kindness
It’s strange to think how much you can learn about a person just from seeing what they purchase at the grocery store.
Someone purchasing baby food, diapers, and wet wipes likely has a newborn waiting for them at home; a person filling their cart with cat food, bird seed, and dog treats is most likely an animal lover; and that individual that spends an inordinate amount of time carefully reading each label is probably very health-conscious.
But sometimes, things aren’t always as they appear to be – something that Gregory Johnson recently learned while visiting his local Kroger.
A Sad Story Shared
According to CBS News, when Johnson noticed an older man in a wheelchair purchasing a cake and a bouquet of flowers, in a friendly attempt to make conversation, he commented, “It looks like you’ve got a big night planned!”
And while the man in the wheelchair did have a big night planned, it wasn’t quite what Johnson had expected.
The man in the wheelchair responded to Johnson’s innocent comment by looking up at him “with the saddest eyes” Johnson had ever seen and sharing the real story behind his purchase.
The man, Jim, explained that the cake and flowers were part of a tradition that he had started five years earlier when his wife Gloria had passed away. Every year, he would honor her birthday by placing the fresh roses on his table and cutting a piece of cake for himself and one for his late wife.
Johnson’s heart immediately went out to Jim who was quite visibly still devastated over the loss of his wife.
Johnson told CBS News, “I knew that I wanted to do whatever I could in that moment to take his mind off of his heartbreak. So, I started asking him questions about their life together and I believe his reminiscing made him feel better.”
A New Kind-Of Tradition
Before either man knew it, they had been standing in the grocery store talking for over 90-minutes. Jim’s entire demeanor had changed as he relished in the opportunity to share various details about his late wife and their beloved 53-year long marriage with Johnson.
Their conversation only came to a halt when the manager approached them to carry on the tradition of the photographing Jim each year as a memento of the special tradition. But this year, there was something very different about the photograph – not only did Jim have a new friend with him in the picture, but the sad expression seen on Jim’s face in earlier photos was replaced with a wide, happy grin.
In fact, Jim was so touched by the kindness of this stranger-turned-friend, that he invited Johnson back to his house to share in his late wife’s annual birthday celebration.
Johnson was honored to accept the invitation and enjoyed a night filled with looking at old photographs, reminiscing about the past, and eating cake in honor of Gloria.
The two men plan to see each other again in an effort to continue growing their newfound friendship.
In a Facebook post sharing about the chance encounter, Johnson wrote, “Hopefully I made that little old man’s night a tad bit better, because he certainly made mine one of the best I’ve had in a long time.”
Just goes to show, the kindness of a stranger might just change your life!
Have you ever experienced the kindness of a stranger? What was the last time that you went out of your way to make someone else’s life a little better? Let’s have a chat!
Margot Carmichael has a passion for words. The author of multiple articles, blog posts and e-books, Margot has been writing for years and helping her clients, large and small, to tell compelling stories. When she is not writing, you can find her cooking, hiking with her English Bulldog or working on DIY projects. Read more about her and sample her work on her website.
Image: GREGORY R. JOHNSON