Something Better Than Beef Au Jus
When someone who does not have much to offer gives one the very best of what they have, and adds sincere, kindly solicitations for one’s well-being to it, then gratitude is a natural response. This week, about halfway home to Bloomington, Illinois from my monthly trip to Chicago, Illinois for my late father’s loss of leg due to god-awful nursing home neglect lawsuit, I stopped at one of the few remaining mom-and-pop restaurants along the route. On the way in I realized that I had been there once before, had ordered “farm” fish which implies “very fresh” from a girl who did not seem to care very much, and had gotten processed fish flakes pressed into a block of something that I would not eat.
I was too stress-fatigued to drive further, so I tried again. This time the Italian-Illinoisan owner of the restaurant was cooking and his Oriental-Illinoisan owner of the restaurant wife was serving. Both were of an age worthy of retirement. The owner-cook came out to greet and seat me, and he stopped back a few more times to my booth to give me a menu, water with lemon, and kindly reassurances that I would soon be waited upon. The owner-waitress immediately saw how tired and sad I was and gave me additional kindly attentions, and then a huge platter of tough, tasty, roast beef au jus $12.99, saying with a smile, “You can take home whatever you can’t eat right now.” Each leaf of the salad was perfect, the blue cheese dressing was thin but homemade and good, each piece of the mixed vegetable side dish was perfect (touchingly, she must have picked over it because every tiny factory-chopped vegetable was picture-perfect), the baked potato was small but perfect, the roll was hermetically sealed in its factory wrapper but the overly generous mound of generic crackers piled underneath it in the dusty basket was an unmistakable attempt to make up for it. They forgot to bring me the desert that went with the meal, but I did not care. I was crying with gratitude.
Caption: Collapsing Into Gratitude
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018