Friday, January 15, 2010

Ode To Jim

(this is not Jim. this is who came up when I typed "happy guy" in google)

I want to tell you about my friend Jim. I've been thinking about him lately, almost daily, as I make myself a sandwich for lunch before going off to work. This Jim is not my funny, commenter friend Jim, so let me explain.

I live in a small town that has one of those little "boutique" supermarkets. It has almost everything you need, at twice the price and on most occasions, it suits my needs just fine. But as I said, it has almost everything. Every once in a while I need to travel over two towns to the big supermarket that has absolutely everything I need. Since I opened my store in September and I began all the construction mid-summer, I have been crazy busy enough not to be able to travel to the big supermarket since the fall. So two Sunday's ago I made the trip to the big supermarket. Upon entering, I did all the normal things that I do at said market, went through the produce, got what I needed and went over to the Deli. I got my number at the Deli counter, and then I looked for Jim.

Jim was an older gentleman who presided over the deli counter for years. His white hair, tucked neatly under the maroon baseball cap of his uniform, worked to set off the sparkle in his piercing, Irish, blue eyes. Jim was the jolliest of souls, always quick with a smile and a hello, and we got to know each other in those few, short exchanges we had over sliced Genoa Salami throughout the years. Jim knew me by name and I knew him by name. He would always start with a, "Hello Candace! What a pleasure it is to see you." I would return the pleasantries. We both loved the Red Sox, Celtics, Pats and B's, and I would always forgo my numbered turn until Jim was available to help me. I knew about his new car, and how proud of it he was, and he knew about my children and their recent triumphs.

Jim wasn't always working on the days I went to the big market, so I wasn't surprised at all last Sunday to find that Jim was not at the counter. There was a slew of young guns, manning the deli slicers, hurrying to get through the masses of customers. When it was my turn, I placed my order, then inquired, "Where's Jim? Is he off today?" The young man looked at me with a blank expression. "Jim?" he said. "I don't know any Jim." I looked over at the other younggin standing next to him and he said, "No Jim works here."

Huh???? Ok, I thought, rookies.

I then saw the two younggins whisper something to each other and then one turned to me and said, quite matter of factly, "I think Jim died."

"No..." was my immediate response, and my heart took on the weight of an anvil at that very moment. I was stunned and numb, but I continued on with my order, with a quiet sadness I was unable to avoid. As I thanked the young man, and proceeded to move on to the rest of the market a bit dumbfounded, a woman from the deli counter came from behind and approached me. She told me how Jim had died, that he had gotten sick and went quick. No suffering. She had gone to see him in the hospital and Jim told her that he wanted no one to cry for him. He was happy. I told her about the last time I had seen him, and how happy he was about his new car, and just about my brief but meaningful exchanges with Jim.Both of us stood in the center of the produce aisle, tears brimming in our eyes. Then I said, "You know, you never realize how someone touches your life until it's too late. Even at the deli counter in the supermarket and just for a few brief moments, but they have touched you."

I was so grateful to her for telling me Jim's story because although I didn't realize it then, I needed to know he was at peace when he went. And today, two weeks later, as I made my lunch for work, I thought of my friend Jim and decided to write this ode to him. Someone who I didn't know at all, really, but somehow Jim left an impression on me. As I wipe the tears from my eyes today, I ask you to quietly let someone in your life, no matter how big or small, know they matter. Before it's to late.

And somehow, I think Jim now knows that he mattered to me.

15 comments:

Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life said...

We all need to really appreciate those little moments withe the poeple we meet...They touch us, and sometimes, we touch them more than we know...

Jim said...

I'm very sorry to hear that, Candy, and you're exactly right . . . we all need to recognize those people in our lives, and be thankful for them, letting them know how thankful we are, when we get the chance.

And I'm thankful you're not talking about me ;-) . . .

XO

Chloie said...

That is such a sweet, heartwarming story. It is so true that you'll never know how much a person means to you or has touched your life until he/she's gone.

Joker_SATX said...

I am sincerely sorry for your loss. One of the things I have come to realize (rather recently I might add) is that as indestructible and immortal as we think we are....at the end of the day, we must give thanks for another day in this rental we are all in.

BeckEye said...

That was so sweet. You even got THIS heartless wench choked up!

Scott Oglesby said...

This was such an inspiring and touching story Candy. It is so important to show and tell people what they mean to you, as often as you can. Even without anything bad happening it’s such a spirit lifter for both parties.

I think that there is another lesson in this heartfelt tale as well. Just to be nice to people as often as you can. With this new year, like I’ve said, I’m trying to shed my cynicism and be as positive about everything in life as possible. And that includes just being nice to everyone I meet….unless they prove me wrong. A smile and ‘hola’ to a stranger may turn around their day after all!

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Whenever this kind of thing happens to me I'm always stunned too. It's just so sad. And you're right, you never realize the hole they will leave in your life until they've gone. I'm sure Jim would love your tribute though!

Despite my sigh when I read it, I almost ruptured something laughing at the picture of Google's happy guy. That is a classic.

Mr. Knucklehead said...

Dammit, I was hoping that this WASN'T where you were going with the story. Sorry to hear of his passing, but it's good to know he touched so many lives.

Cora said...

Oh, I'm so sorry, Candy.

I recently found out my favorite teacher from high school died. I mean, I figured he'd be like 80 years old now, but still I wasn't ready to hear that news no matter what his age. :-(

SkylersDad said...

Those people who touch our lives in small, but very meaningful ways are truly special. You never know when you will see somebody for the last time is what my mom used to say. I think that is why my family are all big huggers.

RW said...

It's characters like that that make life fun. I worry we're losing that kind of possibility, the way things are going. Or maybe I'm just an old fart who wishes we could talk to the grocer again.

LegalMist said...

People like Jim make life worth living.

I'm sure he felt the same about you, that you were a kind person in a sea of impatient customers.

Rest assured, you touched his life, too.

I'm sorry for the loss of your deli friend. I've got a couple of tears now, too, and I never even met him.

the walking man said...

I can do what you ask...it's good to let people in, no matter how briefly.

Be Well Candace. The heart that feels pain at the loss is one that still lives in amity.

Andy said...

I know you wrote that in honor of Jim and not for your own purposes, but I'd still like to say you wrote that beautifully.
And I'm sorry to hear about the guy, because there are only so many people like that in the world.

P.S. My word verification is "vapho." My guess is that's slang for a vapid prostitute

Joanie M said...

I'm sorry your friend is gone. We have a lot of guests at Fridays (we don't have customers, we have guests) who come in very regularly. Many we know by name and we know about heir lives. It's very sad when we get word that someone has passed.