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Lunch Hour

I love people.

Well, most people. But really, I am so fascinated by people. Where do they come from? What do they do on a regular basis? What is their morning routine? Have they had a happy life? What makes them smile? Where are they going? Where have they been?

My husband and I were in an art museum in Ireland and I sat on a bench and watched this gentleman for about twenty minutes. ( I had to capture the moment with this picture)

He came in as though he was quite familiar with his surroundings, as if he was here everyday. Did he work here? I asked myself. He sat down in front of a woman painted nude wrapped in bedsheets. I wondered if he was the artist or maybe knew the subject in the painting or perhaps he was just drawn to it. He took out a file folder with some papers inside, thumbed through the papers carelessly, as if it was an obligation he would rather not deal with at all. I imagined he was a professor and maybe going over some of his students work. Or perhaps a writer and doing some editing. His shoe was untied. He was dressed very dapper as I witness most Europeans to be. He then took everything out of his bag and placed it on the bench beside himself. He first ate a small sandwich, enough to be just a couple of bites, and finished it with a lick of his fingers, I guessed that he must have forgotten a napkin but just then he pulled a hanky out of his jacket pocket and wiped his fingers. Hungry at the moment, I thought about how much I like my own sandos to be more loaded with condiments than I do meat and cheese. Next, he picked up something that appeared to be yogurt and ate it swiftly pulling his spoon out of his mouth as if he were orchestrating a symphony. Just then, it occurred to me that he could possibly be a conductor. As he ate all the items from his bag he carefully placed them back inside, almost in an obsessive compulsive manner. I thought about how many times you get your lunch bag home and pickle juice has spilled onto all of the bags and made everything sticky. While his bag was packed neatly with the remnants of his lunch he then picked up the papers beside him and shoved them back into the file folder at his feet and tossed them carelessly into the bag. His shoe still untied, he hopped up from the bench onto his feet, swung the bag over his shoulder and began to walk my way.

I love to people watch. It creates such curiosity in my mind. I create several different stories and move in many directions just trying to come up with a story I want to imagine for them. It fills me with wonder and delight. I guess that makes me a storyteller.

His name is Edgar Whitlock. He is 92. His wife, Helen was painted many years ago by a college friend, Raul, while they attended Trinity College in Dublin. Although Raul was deeply in love with Helen, Helen had always had her heart set on Edgar. Edgar and his wife Helen were married 53 years before she passed away. They had 4 children all of which became artists or musicians, like their parents. Edgar is a retired conductor and resident orchestra leader for the RTÉ National Symphony. Raul, the artist who painted this lovely painting of Helen lived out his years in a tiny village in Northern Ireland painting and sculpting, he never married. After he passed away, his art was featured in the Dublin Museum of Art in the heart of the city. Edgar is now a Music Professor at Trinity College and has lunch with his wife in between classes.

As this sweet man approached me I couldn’t help but notice the vibrance in his eyes. It was my answer, he had lived a happy life. I smiled. He placed his hand on my arm, looked me in the eye as if he knew I was amusing myself with a story and he said, “ Most pleasant day, isn’t it?” Why yes, yes it is Edgar.


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