image courtesy of

image courtesy of

We’re regulars, she and I, at the red brick ageless restaurant where our paths cross on occasion. Over the course of time, although trying to tune her along with the rest of the world out, I began to take note of the lady the waiters and waitresses call “Sunny”.

Sunny is old. And by the looks of her skin, I’d say she’s spent the majority of her life, if not all of it, fighting the inevitable losing battle with the Arizona sun. Sunny is short with silver hair in strands well above her shoulders. She doesn’t move fast, but deliberately. Her clothes look like she gave up worrying about fashion in the early seventies, but appreciates being comfortable.

Sunny carries an all white purse, smaller than most ladies her age. The handbag looked startling little when I looked close enough to see the clear plastic tubing snaking out of it. A closer glance revealed that tube strapped to Sunny’s head, just under her nose, and ran almost unseen under her blouse and then back to that tiny purse that housed her oxygen tank.

It’s easy for me to say that the kind folks working at the neighborhood restaurant have come to know me and treat me like a friend. If that’s a fairly accurate description of how they treat me, then how they treat Sunny would be like family.

Sunny has taken the time to learn everyone’s names and acts like all of them are her kids. Every last one of the people who work there make it a point to stop by and see Sunny, even if they’re not waiting on her.

Sunny is one of those type of folks that defy a category. To judge her by her cover would be a grave miscalculation. Just because she’s old and looks tired and relies on oxygen to keep her going doesn’t mean she’s not full of life.

Sunny is animated. When she greets each person it’s like long-lost family rediscovered, “Why-there you are! How are you, Nancy?” is typical of what she says in a high-pitched voice that sounds like something from a cartoon as she holds her arms out insisting on a big ole hug.

Sunny remembers details about each person that works there and asks them with sincerity about their lives and family members.

Despite her age, Sunny is the definition of her namesake; she lights up a room. It looks brighter and even feels lighter when she’s in it. Sunny reminds me that despite our world and personal setbacks, the gift of free will is appointed by God to each one of us. It is our choice how we see life and how we live it.

Sunny sat at the table next to me yet again a while back. Just before she left I did something a little out of character for me when I’m hoarding my time to write, “I’d say your name fits you perfectly, Sunny,” I told her.

Sunny beamed the brightest and most beautiful smile, tilted her head slightly sideways, a thankful twinkle in her eyes and said, “Well thank you, sir.”

I couldn’t help but smile back, “My pleasure,” I said and nodded.

Sunny reminded me again that caring for others is a gift. And that gift is ageless.