What do you think of when you see red roses and baby’s breath? Not just a single-stem rose, and not just a spray of baby’s breath, but a real, honest-to-goodness floral display?
A dozen roses: almost always associated with love, romance, or valentine’s day. It’s a big gesture (and usually hits the wallet pretty hard), but one that is recognized and appreciated.
Gregory Johnson must have thought something along those lines when he saw a dozen red roses in an older gentleman’s shopping cart at the local grocery store.
Deciding to be neighborly, he commented on the flowers, saying “You must have a big night ahead of you.”
“Wife died five years ago and today is her birthday,” the man replied.
Johnson was shocked. That was not what he was expecting to hear. He continued talking to the man, whose name was Jim, and found out that this had been a tradition: every year on his wife’s birthday, Jim would head to the store.
He’d buy a dozen roses and a cake, take them home, and cut two pieces of cake — one for him, and one for his wife.
“He just looked like he had no desire to live and like the saddest man who had ever been born,” Johnson wrote. “I could just sense he needed a buddy.”
So Johnson became that buddy. The two stood in the grocery store for about two hours, as Johnson listened to Jim reminiscing about his wife.
The two had been high school sweethearts and had been married for over 50 years. They’d experienced a lot of life together, and now that she was gone, Jim was the only one keeping those memories alive.
Sensing a bond between the two of them, Jim invited Johnson over for a piece of cake, to come celebrate with him.
“I simply looked at him and told him I’d be honored to sit at his table and have a piece of cake with him in remembrance of his wife,” Johnson said.
Johnson later wrote that the interaction was incredibly meaningful for the both of them: “Hopefully I made that little old man’s night a tad bit better, because he certainly made mine one of the best I’ve had in a long time.”
The two plan on spending more time together in the future. They’re friends now, and all because of a comment in a grocery store.