“I knew,” I said . . . “there was something about you.” Then I leaked tears, overcome by the words that had just tumbled out of the mouth of a waitress. Georgette had served me on my last visit to Denny’s a few weeks ago and impressed me as one more attentive and personable employee from my go-to, breakfast-out destination. On that visit Georgette let me know that she was new to the Denny’s scene and still learning, but I would never have thought that if she hadn’t said so.
Today’s revelation was more stunning. Actually, Natalie was my waitress today, not Georgette. Upon my entrance, I noticed Georgette was taking orders in an engaging way from a table with two adult women and two preteen boys, one of whom sat in a wheel chair. After I gave my order for “eggs in a basket” to Natalie, Georgette appeared alongside my booth at the front windows, seeming to recollect our breakfast encounter several weeks ago.
There is no such thing as small talk. I mentioned something about writing and Georgette’s blue-spectacled eyes lit up, “Oh, are you a writer?”
“I do some writing, freelance writing.”
When she asked what I write, I mentioned ‘memoir’ and told her about my website with the categories of “personal essays,” “memoir,” and “cat scratches.” But then I had to tell her about the story that has been dominating my existence for the past four months. I explained that a church in Braddock, PA, could no longer support its 30-year pastoral, music ministry and that I was writing a piece to celebrate the ministry and to reflect on the impact of the loss on the parish family.
Georgette then asked me the name of the furloughed director of music ministry. I told her, ‘Herb Dillahunt,’ and that Herb has secured a new position at a Catholic parish in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. Then came the unexpected words.
“I direct a choir too.” Reacting to my wide-eyed look, she added, “It’s a little choir at a ministry down the road there,” as she turned and waved west on Route 30, “in Penn. An outreach ministry to help people with alcohol and drug addictions moved into an old church there.” Then she confided, “I’m a recovering addict myself, and I direct a choir of others who are struggling with addiction.”
The slightly spiked blonde highlights through her dark oaken, short hair gave a glow atop her head as I fixated on the aura of her, unashamed of my tears. Georgette’s eyes sparkled a little and she offered affirmation, “That’s okay,” she said, “the Holy Spirit, huh?”
Slurping a recovery sip of black coffee, I shook my head a very emphatic ‘yes.’ I am a great believer in the presence of the Holy Spirit—God in everyday lives. Energized by the moment, I blurted out, “I want to write about you, too.” She liked the idea and later dropped a scratch note with her name and phone number when she teamed with Natalie to warm my coffee.
I had not planned for a brunch at Denny’s on Tuesday afternoon. I hadn’t expected anything more than some nicely-cooked “eggs in a basket.” What I discovered felt more precious than any “pot of gold” on the other side of the rainbow. Recording artist, Dr. John from bayou country, immortalized himself in 1973 with the funky, unforgettable song, “Right Place, Wrong Time.” On August 25th, 2015, something drew me to my own right place . . . at the right time. Funny how that happens.