By Andy Mitchell
Just last week I saw him, sitting outside
the coffee shop, enjoying the fresh air
with his old friend, Kent. “Gentlemen,” I said,
raising my daily cup of self-serve. “Have a nice day,”
I added, an ordinary salutation. Kent nodded
as Ron responded in kind. “You too, Andy,” he said.
In kind, I think that expression befits the scene,
containing as good a word as any
to describe the man this poem is about. Kind
and gentle – as in “gentleman.” Not in a hoity-toity way,
but in a regular guy way. Mr. Gray was just Ron to you
and me, putting us at ease, calling each of us by name
while he took the backseat, letting us ride shotgun,
as he quietly made things happen, got things done.
What I’m struck by, remembering those last words
we shared, was that he’d added something to them
I almost forgot. A nice day is what I’d wished him.
And, again, he had said, “You too, Andy.” But then
he upped the exchange. “Have a nice week,” he added,
trailing off. Hurrying back to open my store, I almost
didn’t register that last bit. It was Tuesday, last Tuesday,
and, realizing it was the first day of my work week,
he was wishing me well for the long haul. Seems
indicative of his generosity, extending a wish
for a pleasant day to last the whole week long. But
I’m also taken by his trailing off. Perhaps he was simply out
of breath. Or maybe he sensed his words would have to last
longer than the day, the last day I saw him.