A woman sat beside me at the park, her young son standing patiently by her, his eyes fixed on the playground. With a kiss and a zip of his jacket, she sent him screaming with delight toward the other children. She pulled a thermos from her bag and smiled at me as she poured her coffee.
“Would you like some?” she asked. “I have another cup.”
I nodded. “Why, I’d love some. Thank you.”
“I always bring an extra cup,” she said as she poured. “I mean, you never know who you might end up talking with, and it’s a great way to start a conversation.” She handed me the cup and set the thermos on the ground. “So, which angel is yours?”
I pointed to my granddaughter in the sandbox. “The one dressed in pink from head to toe.”
“She’s beautiful. How old is she?”
“Three. What about your son?”
“He’s five, going on ten, you know how it goes.” She laughed softly.
We talked for an hour, sharing funny and not-so-funny stories of our husbands, work and children. Her name was Meredith. We exchanged e-mails and phone numbers and made plans to meet at the park next week, same day and time, but next time, I would bring the coffee.
Meredith began packing her things and called to her son. “Michael, it’s time to go, sweetie.”
“Aww, Mommy. Just a few more minutes please.”
She smiled and said, “Okay. Five more minutes.”
Almost ten minutes passed when she called out to her son again. “Come on, honey. Time to go.”
I called to my granddaughter, “Keller, let’s go, babe. Time for lunch.”
“Aww, Grammie, do we have to go now? Please can we stay five more minutes?”
“Yeah, Mommy,” Michael said. “What she said.”
“No,” I said. “We have to go.”
Meredith sat back and smiled. “Oh, I guess, honey. Five more and then that’s it.”
I looked at this woman beside me. “Wow. You’ve got the patience of a saint.”
“Not really,” she said with a smile. “His ten-year old brother Stephen died six months ago while playing soccer in my neighbor’s yard. The ball rolled into the street. He went after it. The driver couldn’t stop in time.” She paused and looked across the park, a faraway look in her eye. “I never spent much time with Stephen. He was always out doing boy things or hanging out with his dad. I was too busy with other things, you know, cleaning or laundry, or work. When Stephen died, I promised I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. So, while others perceive Michael as begging and getting his way, the truth is, I’m getting five more minutes to watch him play.”
Keller sauntered up to me, her chin held to her chest. A tear dripped off her nose. I lifted her face and looked into her big blue eyes. Then, in that innocent little voice of hers, she asked, “Grammie, why are you crying?”
I hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. “You don’t worry about it. Go on. Go play. Five more minutes.”
Meredith smiled at me and sat back. We stayed at the park for another hour.