by Tony Baisley, Director of Communication
I was enjoying a birthday dinner at The Modern Cafe in Nordeast recently when something caught my eye. A young woman with what I perceived to be a cognitive disability was out for the evening with her family, also celebrating a birthday. Everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves and the delicious meals that have kept the Modern a mainstay in the Minneapolis dining scene for years. The young woman was radiant, obviously feeling safe in the company of her close knit family. She shared fork-fulls of her meal with her mother and possibly a sibling. She looked over at me and smiled … actually, she waved at me, smiling so big that I could barely see her eyes anymore! It was a joyous moment.
Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling an abundance of love in my life at that very moment. It had been a difficult few weeks. But seeing this young woman and how simple – yet profoundly instinctive – her interactions with her loved ones were moved me in an inexplicable way. At one point, she rested her head in her brother’s outstretched hands in a gesture that was all trust … complete confidence in the bonds that she was born into and had developed with family. She made sure her mom tried her meatloaf, lovingly held the arm of her brother, and beamed at the rest of the family around the festive table. Nothing was for show; this was a family in their routine, and the young woman clearly loved each of them dearly. I didn’t mean to stare but that’s what I found myself doing.
As we grow older we have to choose what’s important to us. For some that translates into our own family, a rewarding career, and a close circle of friends. Shedding the protection of the family nest, we have to grow up, navigate the world and make decisions for our own good. We understand that these decisions will impact the lives of others. For the most part, we choose who we want to invite into our personal lives as well as those individuals we may need to let go. Busy living, years go by fast sometimes without our even understanding that certain decisions made once upon a time set in motion the very life we now wake up to. This can cause a jolting introspection when waters get rough.
Glancing over at the loving family next to me, I couldn’t help but notice how easy it all seemed for them. At that moment, life didn’t feel easy for me. That is life – seamless one day, heartbreaking the next. Perhaps, like most of us, this particular family had endured some hardships along the way. But that Saturday in dark, freezing January, I was thankful for the easy affection I witnessed at the table next to ours. It inspired me to seek out the joy in life. It will be my own personal journey, but I’m determined to make it a happy one spent with those that I’m lucky enough to meet along the way.