Stopping in the grocery store I was merely picking up several things needed to finish off the meal I was serving to my parents later that night.  Like normal, I told myself I only needed a few items and by-passed the carts heading straight to the produce department for grapes, bananas, tomatoes and rhubarb.  There were about eight people milling around the produce department, along with a store employee re-stocking some sort of fresh greens.  Having toured the produce area twice I still hadn't uncovered any rhubarb.  I wanted to make rhubarb crunch for my dad.  As I stood still, I turned around to take another look at where the rhubarb, which was in season, was hiding.  Suddenly in front of me was a man, shorts and polo shirt, blond hair, topping the height chart at probably about 6 feet.  He was smiling from ear to ear - a full body smile, totally lost in just smiling at me.  I still had not picked up any items so my hands were free.  He reached down and took both of my hands in his.  Definitely I was caught off guard as I glanced around to see if he was with someone, where he had come from, why had he not gone up to anyone else.  He stood there, holding my hands, smiling fully but not saying a word.  I searched his face for features of downs syndrome, but didn't see any.  He appeared to be in his forties and smiled as if he were trying to speak through it to me.  I started talking.  At first with a bit of nervousness that he wasn't saying anything, then giving him affirmation and the connection that he was seeking.  Turning toward the employee I removed my hands from his wishing him a happy day as I asked the worker if they had rhubarb.  Taking a few steps toward the rhubarb there is the silent, smiling man again.  He walks directly up to me, takes both of my hands in his and begins his smiling communication with me all over again.  We repeat our whole interaction with only a slight variation of what I say to him.  He responds the same - smiling uncontrollably, powerfully even, holding my hands and listening to what I say but being completely silent.  I bid him farewell, extricate myself and move through the store to finish my shopping thinking about my interaction with this smiling silent stranger.  Why did he come to me?   What would it be like to have to move through life with no words?   I thought about the power of human touch and a smile to communicate without words.  A smiling silent stranger found me while I searched for rhubarb.  I was looking for a bitter controversial vegetable.  He was looking for something too - someone to give a silent smile to.

1 comment:

  1. This may surprise a lot of ppl, but ohhhh no Big L, not me. You say you talked...would like to hear
    more about that. My guess is he's been silent for 10 yrs and after 1 minute with you he opened up and spilled his heart and soul to you.