Sunday, May 14, 2017 was Mother’s Day for the United States of America. Reportedly, Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants. I admit, my husband spoils me rotten every Mother’s Day. How I wish I could say my son does the same…but…he doesn’t. Apparently, he is ‘always busy’ and he ‘forgets it is Mother’s Day.’ My response when he calls me late in the early evening is a pleasant ‘thank you for remembering me,’ while inside I am curious IF he does the same to his wife, the mother of his teenage child.
One thing I’ve learned about grown-up children is how they choose to live and treat others when they are grown is NOT a reflection of how they were reared in their parent’s home.
Enough about that and about my son.
Since it was Mother’s Day, I requested dinner at Olive Garden Restaurant. I wanted to try their new manicotti entrée. Arriving at Olive Garden, we were told there was an hour to an hour-and-a-half wait. While I realize restaurants are swamped on Mother’s Day, I smiled pleasantly at the hostess, hoping it would not take us an hour just to get a table.
Sitting in the lobby, I watched people going in and going out. It seemed everyone had a Mother with them. Children. Grown children. Some were pushing walkers. Strollers. Rushing to get inside to a table to have a festive dinner at Olive Garden. How thankful I am that I can walk and move like I do without the assistance of a walker.
Sipping a glass of wine, I played with my phone, after punching one hour in to the timer. I was curious IF our wait would take that long. It did not.
Twenty-five minutes later, our name was called. We followed the hostess to the back of the restaurant. It was packed. Our server was a pretty woman with streaks of silver in her hair. She was serving about 20 tables. Many of the tables contained eight people or more. Across from us, I noticed an older woman. Her hair was short, kissed with snow. Her face, strained. No smile. Her eyes puffy. No reaction to anyone that looked her way. She appeared to be sitting alone. Two wine glasses were on the table. I waited a few minutes, still looking at her discreetly. I hoped someone would join her. No one did. Her entrée was served. She unfolded her napkin, placed her utensils in their proper setting. Forks on the left. Knife on the right. She picked up the fork closest to her and started eating. Still sitting alone. My heart broke. Why was this woman sitting all alone eating dinner?
After we ordered, our server returned with salad for Phil, Zuppa Toscana soup for me. My eyes glanced at the woman again. Still alone. No one to have a conversation with. No one to share Mother’s Day with. I kept wondering. If something happens to Phil in the future, will that lady be me sitting at a restaurant, all alone on Mother’s Day?
Probably! I tried to remember the last time my son and I had dinner together. Let’s just say, it was last year. His wife was not present. He and our grandson were eating at Red Lobster, and it wasn’t on Mother’s Day.
Our server returned to refresh our drinks – iced tea and water with lemon. Lots of lemon! I motioned for her to come closer.
“That table with the lady sitting alone, is she your table?”
“Looking all over this area, she is the only woman sitting by herself on Mother’s Day. So sad.”
Phil looked at me, knowing me so well he could tell something was brewing inside my mind.
“Phil. Please don’t look now, but the woman is all alone. I think we should do something. We should pick up her tab.”
I was curious. Maybe she had family, and maybe her family lived away…or, maybe her family was ‘too busy’ like my son. Some people are so selfish.
Phil glanced at the woman. He approached her table, wishing her Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked him. A moment later, she wiped her eyes. What a sad Mother’s Day.
Our server rushed around the dining room, caring for her guests. I held up my finger. She approached us. “Since that lady is all alone, we want to pick up her tab. Can you arrange that?”
Our entrees arrived. I ordered the Olive Garden Tuscan Three Meat Manicotti. Phil, of course, being a creature of habit, ordered Fettucine Alfredo with shrimp. We chatted while eating, enjoying our dinners and our time together.
A few minutes later the lady sitting alone requested her check. The server told her the dinner was complimentary. She pointed in our direction.
She gathered her things, including a doggie bag and approached us.
“Thank you,” she said. Her voice trembled. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“It’s Mother’s Day. We wanted you to feel special.”
“I have family…” Her voice broke. Quickly, she walked away. I didn’t look back at her, but I could tell from her actions, she was about to break down.
I’ve always been a considerate, generous person, especially after marrying so young and building my life as an independent woman. Fortunately, Phil usually agrees with me that we should always “pay it forward.”
Mother’s Day was no different. Regardless what or where things happen within our lives, we believe we should always do something nice every day of our lives.
After dinner, we drove home. Arriving home as a voice mail was in the recording stage on our landline. The voice sounded familiar. Rushing to let the screaming dogs outside, I heard Phil chatting on the phone. Our son was talking to his dad and he wanted to speak with me.
Mother’s Day was coming to an end. When I took the phone, I heard my son and our grandson saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” Just as I predicted!
I thanked them both for thinking of me, chatted a few minutes and hung up. Yes, their lives were ‘busy’ and so are our lives. Heck. All lives lead busy lives. We must take a moment to appreciate life and to be kind to others. Happy Mother’s Day!
As for the lady sitting alone having her Mother’s Day dinner at Olive Garden, she remained in my thoughts all evening. I ached for her, but I felt proud that we ‘paid it forward’ on Mother’s Day. After all, no mother should be alone on Mother’s Day.