EPIPHANY AT NORM’S by Chuck Kelley
I was sitting in a booth at a Norm’s Restaurant in Bellflower, California, grabbing a quick bite to eat while waiting for the traffic to die down. The parking lot was huge and bordered a Trailer Park on two sides, separated by a tall cinderblock wall, where some forward thinking individual had installed a permanent, key controlled, gate, giving the residents of the Park easy access to the restaurant 24/7.
I watched a family of four pass through the gate and walk toward the restaurant. There was something about them that caught my eye. Intrigued, I wonder about them, their story, their history, what made them tick.
As luck would have it, they were seated in the booth just in front of mine. The father was dressed in a clean mechanic’s uniform, the wife in a fresh, bright sundress, and the two children, a boy around 8 years old and his younger sister, probably about 5 years old, were both dressed in sparkling clean summer attire. Each one of them seemed to possess an inner glow. These people were happy. They clearly loved one another deeply, which was made obvious through their face and body language as much as their tone of voice and attentiveness. I was mesmerized.
A beautiful young woman, who appeared to be in her late teens or early twenties, the girl next door type, approached their table…she had the same glow. Tears filled her eyes as she stood in front of them and exclaimed, “I can’t believe you sold the house.” She slid in next to her father, looked at her mother and said,”how could you let him do that? I could’ve found a way.” Her father replied, “You’re our daughter, we love you. We want you to have the best education and we don’t want you to have to worry about money while you’re getting it. There will be other houses.” The daughter looked at her two siblings and said, “What about them…what’s going to happen to them?” The father, beaming, embraced his wife, looked at the younger two and replied, “We have a plan. There will be other houses and we’ll live in the Trailer Park to save money. They’ll have the same advantages as you. Besides, we’ve decided that living in the Trailer Park will be like camping out all year long!”
I’d never seen such a display of utter selflessness by an individual…much less an entire family. Each and every one of them willing and wanting to make sacrifices for another’s benefit…and beaming about! Blissed out!!!! Excited and happy to be a part of it!
It was that day that these people became my role models. I have done a despicable job of emulating them, but they have served well to remind me how far off the path I remain. Most of the time, when I realize that I’ve done something selfishly or that I stopped assisting well short of my capabilities, that family pops into my head.