I could have just taken a quick picture of these two and continued on my way…
But there was something inviting about this duo on a overcast Wednesday afternoon that caused me to slow down and say “hello.”
Our exchanged hello’s turned into questions about the fishing… and lead to the story of how Nate ended up in Holland, MI. Nate, an 8th grader from Milwaukee, wanted to take the ferry across Lake Michigan with his Grandma when she was returning back home to the Holland area after her visit with family. They booked the 6am ferry. She wouldn’t have traded anything for seeing the sunrise while going across the water with her grandson. I have a hunch that Nate would say the same.
She is an everyday hero. She gives back to the community by playing piano in an assisted living facility for people with alzheimer’s. Every week she shows up to bless them with familiar piano tunes. This past week, Nate played some Jazz numbers. Everyone loved it.
Married for 40 years to the man of her dreams… she has been missing him for the past 10 years. I can’t imagine…
Her decision to embrace life has lead her to a Wednesday afternoon fishing date with her grandson.
And seriously, whats a summer without a Dr. Pepper and a fishing rod?
and a game of sequence or a good novel?
It’s clear that Nate has a great sense of humor just by his t-shirt choice.
Donna’s late husband worked at the Heinz Factory for 25 years. Twenty-five. (That’s 9,125 days)
She used to drive him past the factory in the last few years of his life.
Donna quietly shared: “He would have loved to see what Heinz gave back to the Holland community.”
Heinz built this incredible walkway where Nate and his Grandmother are creating memories…reading, fishing and remembering a great man.
Not only that, but they put signs like this up for their employees to see on a daily basis:
and this: “Nothing we do is worth getting hurt.”
I have found myself reflecting on my generation and how rare it will be for people my age to be in the same career for the next 25 years. I know it still happens — but its far more rare. I am honored to know people who had such loyalty and commitment to a job and community… I am inspired by an older generation that appreciated a steady place of employment that provided security for their family for generations that followed. I have seen the fruit of the loyalty of this generation. When I talked with Nate as he is beginning to dream about his future, I realize just how much his Grandparents created room for those dreams to grow.
Sometimes it is behind the very structure that could feel like confinement that there is the most freedom to create, build, and plan for generations to come.
Who will you walk by today?
What (or whose) stories will you miss?
Donna & Nate, Thank you for sharing bits and pieces of your story with me. I was inspired by your adventurous and resilient spirits and sweet relationship. By the way…Donna, I may have washed the subway napkin with your number on it (I felt like crying), so if you still have my number — call me first!