“Connection requires vulnerability.” – Dr. Brene Brown
On a break from work last week, heading out to get a coffee, I was walking along the storefronts of a nearby shopping center, and when I looked ahead, an older gentleman wearing a Marine Corps cap was walking toward me. I smiled and said hi as we approached each other, and he said hi and slowed down, as if anticipating I would say something next, so I just stopped altogether, and said, “How are you today?”
From that invitation to chat, I learned 10 things about my new friend, JT Green:
1. He’s a WWII Marine Corps veteran, and was in the Battle of Midway.
2. His wife passed away three years ago and he moved out of his house recently because he “just couldn’t take it anymore…”
3. His only daughter passed away from breast cancer when she was 57.
4. He has a poodle that he adores. “She gets anything she wants.”
5. His birthday is Sept. 28 and he’ll be 96!!
6. He loves where he lives now; they have a good happy hour social in the evenings.
7. He’s blind in one eye and losing vision in the next.
8. He has no other family.
9. He lost a lot of friends in the war.
10. He walks every day.
I had a chunk of fudge in my purse that I was about to take to local business owner, but I found myself offering it to this man instead. I also said I’d love to come by to visit him soon, and would bring my husband to meet him sometime. He said he could offer us any drink we wanted: beer, wine, or a cocktail. He likes to take care of his guests.
As we said our goodbyes, I gave him a hug and shook his hand (older, isolated people, especially, need more compassionate human touch). He looked at me and said, “A lot of people will say hi, but not many people will stop to chat. Thanks for stopping to talk to me.”
Someone around you needs you today: your eye contact and smile, your handshake, your kind words. Reach out to someone today. Take the time to have a conversation with a stranger. Don’t rush by; stop and exchange some chit-chat. You never know how much it might mean to them, and you might just make a new friend.