It was a Saturday.
We were traveling south on I-35, toward Austin, and decided to stop at Salado. While there, we went into Brookshire’s grocery store. Jamie was with us that day. As she walked through the store, she passed by an older gentleman holding a cake he had purchased from the store bakery. On the cake, the decorator had written these words:
“Happy Birthday to Me.”
Jamie said that as she walked by the man, he said these words aloud.
When I heard this story, questions rushed into my mind. Where is this man’s family? Where are this man’s friends? Does this man have neighbors? Does he have a church? What is his story? What is the story of a man who resorts to buying his own birthday cake?
I pictured this man going home to an empty house. Perhaps he cut a piece of cake, poured a glass of milk, and sat in his recliner in front of his television. Perhaps his family, living in a distant city, called to wish him a “Happy Birthday.” Perhaps not. Maybe they forgot his birthday. Even worse, maybe they forgot him.
There is something about this story that is a reminder to me of the isolation, loneliness, and disconnection that many people in this culture feel. Yes, I know this is nothing new. Nor is it something that you are probably not aware of. Every once in a while, however, something like this happens that gets my attention again.
Years ago, I heard the story of a man who was looking through the storefront window of a department store in his town. Also peering into the window was a small boy who was alone. The boy stood for a long time looking into the window. Finally, the gentleman asked the boy where his parents were. The boy answered,
Mister, I’m nobody’s nuthin’.
Is the story true? Who knows. I do know that when I heard this story I thought about the people I have known who felt alone, isolated, and cut off from others.
The story of the man with the birthday cake is a reminder to me to not assume too much about people with whom I come in contact. It is also a reminder that God remembers all of us, even when we are forgotten by some. In Scripture, God reminds us that he remembers the poor, the widow, the orphan, the disadvantaged.