One would not think that the older generation frequents the coffee shops, but I can tell you firsthand that they do. Most of them just want a cup of coffee and nothing fancy, but you can still find them in the coffee shops. Here are a few recollections...
Abu is a short, old man of middle eastern descent. He has a thick accent and you have to listen closely at times because he will speak quickly. Abu has giant smile lines around his eyes and mouth because he truly is smiling all the time. He has a joke for many occasions and always a reason to laugh. Abu has proudly brought pictures of his new grand baby to show off to me and recounted stories of his kids. He loves people,too, and is frequently buying a cup of whatever the person next to him is getting, simply because he has a big heart. He looks for nothing in return, and often times he doesn't even really know the person, but by the time he leaves the coffee shop, he does know much about them. Because that is Abu. A kind-hearted, silly "old" man, but young at heart. Abu is in the shop at least 3 times a day, and I tell him he will turn into a cup of coffee. I am glad Abu crossed my path and became my friend.
Frank was an old customer of mine at Starbucks. Frank was former military and was rarely seen entering the store without his black hat with yellow writing of whatever his military group was. He was a proud veteran. Frank was so kind. But what I learned and loved most about Frank was his devotion to his wife. Frank and I came to know each other because he was in search of a good cup he could buy that had a straw but would not break or spill when tipped over because his wife was dying from cancer and often times spilled her cups. He loved her with a passion rarely found in people today. I know not because I met her myself, but I know because of how he talked about her and the light his eyes got when he told stories about her. He cared for her in her dying days and we connected, not because I understood a spouse dying, but I understood grief. And thus, I would quietly listen and soak in each and every story he'd tell. A grieving person, or one knowing they soon will be letting go, often has to share and that helps through the process. Frank shared many stories with me. Little did Frank know that he was teaching me lessons in the process. Lessons about love and faith and open, caring hearts. Frank inspired me. He held a love that is rare to be found any more. He held what every fairy tale does. Frank's wife passed, and the sadness was in his voice as he would share how much he missed her. And yet, the love of the years they had together was stronger than the sadness and proved to keep him going strong. He talked of her much even after her passing, and their love story will always resonate with me. Frank even came out to support me at Relay for Life, as cancer was a sickness that had touched both our lives and ultimately, bonded our friendship. He was a grandfather type figure to me, but he was even more so a friend. I learned much from Frank.
Diana is not old enough by any means to be a grandparent to me; she's more along the lines of what my dad's age is, most likely. She reminds me of my mom in some ways. But Diana has stood out as an inspiration to me. Diana had cancer. Little did I know this until she returned from months of chemo/radiation and had a beautiful wig on. But more than her wig stood out, her smile and positive spirit did. She never complained. She was always grateful for coming through the cancer in a positive light. She embraced the experience instead of being bitter about it. She did not allow it to control her or change her, she took it and let it become a story of great triumph and bravery. To be honest, I am not even sure what kind of cancer it was. It really doesn't matter. Diana has taught me about perseverance and good spirits. When her hair began growing back, she became even more beautiful and to watch her embrace the new look was just as empowering. She taught me about what being a secure woman can look like in a day like today. She is strong and beautiful and an inspiration. And her encouraging words upon my announcement to move on from the coffee industry gave me strength and inspiration as well... Diana will forever have an imprint on my life.
The stories of the "older" generation go on like this.... hard workers, true lovers, strong character, steadfast faith, and genuine souls. The lives of those with whom I've interacted in the older generation have greatly touched me and taught me more than they ever knew. In fact, they probably had no idea they were touching me in that way. I am grateful to have had so many encounters.