My father-in-law, Gordon Lion, was one of the kindest men I know.Years ago I called him Gordo, but when he came to Florida in his later years, it changed to Pop. He had a welcoming smile and bright blue eyes. He attracted people with his gentle ways.
At his assisted living facility, he carried hard candy in the pouch of his walker to give to people he met each day. “Anne, you’d be surprised how happy it makes some people. Some of them don’t have any family or visitors and a little peppermint candy gift makes them smile,” he told me more than once.
His little gifts didn’t stop with hard candy. Once he asked me to get baby powder for a friend, who needed some to put in their shoes. “Just get the little one,” he instructed. “He has trouble holding things.”
“You need to write this down, Anne?” he asked with a grin.
Another time, he requested M & M’s for his roommate, Ralph, in the hospital. Ralph’s wife was anti-sugar and Ralph was having a craving for sweets.
“We’ll have to hide them when Edna comes to see me, ” Ralph warned as he popped four M& M’s into his mouth smiling. He winked at me.
Pop’s next request was to find a little angel and wrap it up nice for a friend who needed some prayers. “Just put it in a little bag that will fit in my walker basket and I’ll deliver it. Make it special. She needs a little boost.”
I became his “gift gopher.”
He would often save desserts from his meals for my husband, Scott. At one point his freezer was stocked with carrot cake, apple pie, tiramisu, and cheesecake. “Don’t tell Scott. I’ll surprise him,” he’d say. The kitchen served fresh baked cookies every afternoon, so there was also a stash of oatmeal, sugar, chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookie assortment in the freezer as well. If we ever got stranded there in a storm, no one would starve.
One of his favorite outings was to go to Crabby Bills Seafood Shack for crab legs. It was Bairdi Crab season and the legs were thick, sweet and tasty. He’d savor each leg and ate them without butter. I naturally dipped my leg into butter and every single time I’d drip it on my top. He’d ask the waiter to bring me a wet nap. It became a standing joke. Anytime we’d even mention crab legs, he’d fetch me a wet nap.
My usual sign from him is the Kenny Chesney song, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem. I hear it often when I think of him. But the other night was different. We had taken a friend from up north out to dinner. It was late and we sat at a table outside the Hurricane Restaurant in Passa Grille. The sun had already given us a picturesque sunset with magenta, blues and bright yellow. The breeze was gentle and slightly cool. We ordered our dinners.
I hadn’t been thinking about Pop when the waiter brought our platters, until he handed me four, count them four, lemon scented wet wipes, just for me. Scott and our friend were wipe less. I started to laugh. I hadn’t ordered anything messy that I would require these, but there they were, with a memory of Pop right behind.
Scott laughed with me and said, “Maybe we should have gotten a table for four.”
I love having a surprise guest from Heaven arrive. I opened a packet and wiped my fingers, just so Pop would know I appreciated the thought.
Next time we’re going to Crabby bills for crab legs. I’m requesting our old booth. I’m going to leave a spot right next to me; just for old time sake.
And I’ll ask for extra napkins for my tears…..and lemon scented wet naps, of course.