Valentines Day for 3

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Valentines Day for 3

In this part of the world we are coming down from the high known as Valentines Day. Some say it’s a day of consumerist excess forced down our throats by corporate big shots. Still there are others who get all too caught up in the festivities of the oversized teddy bears, chocolate roses, and sentimental singing pop-up cards. Still, there are those in the middle of the road. We’re pleased to be able to enjoy the free heart shaped doughnut and coffee from the office break room.

Valentines day is a day for sharing your heart a little more with those you cherish, be they significant others, children, parents, or friends. But what if, for a second, during Valentines Day we opened our eyes to the unloved, forgotten, and looked over?

We planned an in-town getaway in celebration of Valentines Day. Our agenda included sumptuous food, boutique shopping, and much needed time pouring into our marriage.  There are so many sights and sounds to behold when you’re in a metropolitan area. The buildings are large, the cars are fast, and the smells from nearby restaurants are intoxicating. The sun had just come up, the air had a nice cold chill, and we strolled lazily with freshly brewed coffee in our cups. Since our day was to involve shopping, we decided cash in hand would be best for tips, valet, etc.

We walked through the footbridge connecting our hotel to the International Tower in downtown Atlanta. Bodies rushed past, hurrying to their respective offices with hopes of enjoying their breakfast in peace and solitude. We walked up to the only ATM in sight, one not affiliated with our bank. A tall blonde woman with luggage in tow asked if we had seen a Bank of America ATM anywhere. We allowed her to go before us as we deliberated just how much in fees we were about to be charged. Rather than pay unnecessary fees we decided to simply locate a different machine. Our morning didn’t require us to rush, or make on the spot decisions – we had all day. We caught site of one lone Bank of America ATM hidden in a back corner, away from the business of the day.

He had his head down on the table, a tattered gray coat draped over his boney shoulders. He lifted his eyes and met ours, “hey, are you all from around here?” We answered his questions and made conversation with him.

My husband reached out his hand to the older gentleman seated before us, “what’s your name sir?”

Mustafa. Mustafa from Ohio.

Mustafa has been in Atlanta for 23 years, and has been homeless for 20 of those 23 years.

As we spent a little of our morning with Mustafa he geared himself up for the sell – his attempt at convincing us he was worthy of our help. Before he could form the words in his mind we pulled him along with us, asking if we could buy him breakfast.

His hand covered his mouth as he looked down at the ground – we watched as his shoulders rose and fell slowly, trembling under the weight of the moment. He told us of a breakfast buffet he enjoys, but because he is homeless and dressed in shambles he isn’t welcomed to step foot in restaurants or shops. We placed our arm around our friend and said no one was allowed to tell us who we could and could not dine with.

Mustafa loaded his container with pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, oatmeal, and fruit. We laughed, as friends usually do, as we made our way through the line. The sign “food by the pound” brought laughs from Mustafa, with Avery noting that only in America can restaurants sell buffet food by the pound. Those around us couldn’t wrap their minds around exactly what they were seeing – the three of us were an anomaly in societies rulebook.  Mustafa told us of his dreams to travel and do missions and humanitarian work. We said a silent prayer for our new friend and laughed one final time with him before he said God bless you for spending time with me this morning.  He asked if we needed directions out of the city, to which I said no. I went to college in Atlanta, so I knew my way around really well. He decided to quiz me on the location of the Clark building. My answer, “I was a broke college student so… no. But I CAN tell you where all the free parking is. “

Mustafa laughed out loud and waved at us as he walked away. He yelled back “God bless you guys! Happy Valentines Day!” We waved goodbye to our new friend as we turned back towards our hotel.

Coffee still in hand.

Day still ahead.

 

By Dede Nesbitt

 

Photo By: Jim Smith – http://smithjart.com

4 Comments

  1. Beautiful! Simply beautiful!

  2. Truly heartwarming story of kindness and our ability to love all mankind.. Love the simple honesty !

  3. That’s what JESUS would do !

  4. Jesus is awesome and to listen to him is as sweet as life gets.

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