O is for Opportunity

Chris and I will forever be on pursuit chasing the best taco in town – it’s what we do as empty nesters – We love it and we do it well. We met Adolfo during our first time at Los Compadres, a Mexican restaurant in Roanoke, TX. This place is a gem and now one of our favorite spots. Adolfo was our server and after we left, we could not stop talking about him. There was something special about this man, our new friend. He exuded joy and by his smile and service, he glorified the job of waiting tables. We continued to visit this restaurant every few weeks and got to know Adolfo a little more. Yes, the tacos are great, but mostly we went to see our new friend.

This man loves his Mama as deep as the ocean is wide. She has dementia and he helps take care of her, in the most precious ways. We learned about their small hometown in Mexico, his siblings, how he loves Las Vegas and lottery tickets, and anything that makes Mama happy. At each visit we learned more about Mama too. Sometimes he let’s Mama scratch the tickets even after scanning the losing bar code, just so she can find joy in the anticipation. She gets new flowers for her garden, the big ones with the big blooms. As she poses for all the photos, you can see her smile is infectious and she is loved well. It was her birthday, and she wanted a party with a clown piñata. An easy “yes” to the clown, and she had a blast swinging in circles, as the roar from a crowd of family cheers her on in a video. He takes her to the favorite lunch spot and they go grab donuts for breakfast. She has a photo of her and Adolfo in a silly black and white antique photo session, that’s only moved once – from the wall to her bedside – she always wants it near. She loves it when Adolfo gives her dollars to spend, but don’t try and fool her with pesos.

Adolfo posted on Facebook, a photo of Mama in her “flower garden”. She stood from her front porch, behind the flowers, so proud and so tall, the face of satisfaction looking over the creation that was born from a collection of mismatched flowerpots to a beautiful oasis. It almost took my breath away, as I knew this image needed to be more than just a Facebook post. Everything about it was nostalgic, unique, and a memory that deserved a frame and a place on the wall, somewhere. It needed to be cherished. In my mind I can see, even 100 years from now, each time it’s dusted or straightened where it resides, the image of Mama’s Garden will live on. I commented, “you should make this into a watercolor painting”. He agreed and said yes, he may just have to do that.

I kept thinking about this image, and we kept visiting Adolfo. O is for Opportunity.

I searched online for a company that could turn this photo into a painting. Most didn’t capture the quality I wanted or had some quirky website adding this and that for more fees. Ironically, Amazon had a painting option with raving reviews, and the paintings were beautiful! I placed the order and my only request was, “make the flowers as vibrant and beautiful as Mama”. Delivery was several weeks out and I refreshed the tracking a few times each day, anticipating Adolfo’s face as we handed it to him. The seller replied to my comments in Chinese and the shipping status was “cleared customs” for more than a week – so I knew it was far, far, far away. Again, I contacted the seller and asked for a refund, so I could find another venue – as this one was clearly stuck at customs.

The painting went from “cleared customs” to my front doorstep in one day. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I unrolled the painting and felt the texture of the canvas, touched the blobs of paint from the paintbrush, and noticed the tiny pin holes in each corner where it had been attached to an easel – I was stunned at this creation in my hands and visualized the artist sitting and carefully creating such a treasure, all the way from China to Texas. O is for Opportunity.

We sat near his section and offered him to pull up a chair when he had a break. He sat down and after a quaint greeting I showed him my phone with a screenshot of the photo from Facebook. He shook his head, “yes, I remember that photo”. I handed him the cardboard tube and he just started shaking his head side to side, “No, you didn’t. You didn’t.”

Tears were forming before he even laid eyes on the painting. As he took time to adore each brush stroke and sweet Mama in the portrait, you could see a glow on his face and the deepest of love spilled from his eyes. A treasure from two people in a small Texas town, who crossed paths over a taco.

You meet people in life that have a purpose in yours, for reasons only God knows. He’ll show us opportunities to love on others, and if we don’t jump on them, we’re missing out on some of the most joyous and precious nectar in life. Create the painting, eat the taco, and don’t wait because these opportunities are only here now, for tomorrow is not promised. O is for Opportunity.

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