There were at least six unoccupied tables in the Border's cafe, but Mr. Miller asked if he could sit with me for a few minutes; his grandson had to "make use of the facilities" and didn't want him to sit somewhere alone. I was in the middle of trying to figure out where the hell chapter 16 went to--I couldn't find it on my hard drive or the jump drive to which I routinely save my work--and I was in need of a distraction before I picked up the laptop and flung it across the room.
(very old laptop; if it breaks I shall not cry...too hard.)
He asked nicely and I had no reason to say no, even though I could have kept an eye on him if he'd sat at another table. And it's not like I could really do anything if he clutched his chest and face-planted onto the floor; it made his grandson feel better, and it wasn't a problem, so what the heck. He introduced himself as his grandson (whom I later learned was actually his great great grandson) scurried off to the men's room.
I said the only intelligent thing that popped into my head. "My grandmother was a Miller. Well, really, she was a Mueller."
Mr. Miller--I did not get his first name, nor did I ask; if a man old enough to be my grandfather introduces himself as Mister, then Mister it is--informed me he was going to celebrate his one hundred second birthday in a week. That's when he mused about the surprise of waking up every morning.
It's a happy surprise, he says.
I asked how many grandkids he's got, and he laughed. He had five kids of his own, but lost track of how many grandchildren and great grandchildren and great great grandchildren they've given him. The grandson escorting him today was seventeen year old Brian, who has lived two streets over since he was born. Or he did until Mr. Miller realized he needed to move into a facility, where there would be cute nurses to keep an eye on him.
"Some of those nurses," he muses, "aren't very cute. If I had known half of them were men, I might have moved in with my daughter."
His grandson returned, and offered to buy him a coffee. Mr. Miller nodded, and said to me, "There are six of my great grandkids that live here. They take turns driving me to the places I want to go."
Brian added with a laugh, "We fight over who gets to take him."
"So they say," Mr. Miller said.
"Mark is going to drive you tomorrow, Grandpa. I asked him if we could all go see that movie together."
"Why don't you just take me?"
"It's Mark's turn. He'd be mad as hell if I took his turn."
Mr. Miller tapped the table with his fingers. "Now you know why it's a happy surprise."
Brian helped his grandfather up from his chair, and picked up the coffee cup. I watched them as they walked away, Brian with one hand at his great-great-grandfather's back, Mr. Miller nudging him with his shoulder. As they moved beyond where I could see them, I could still hear them laughing.