He hit me in the eye with birdseed. Yep, birdseed. I was so startled I stopped, looking through my one good eye to see what was that?! There, minding his own business was an old man tossing seeds and breadcrumbs at the ducks and birds near the lake. He had on a full suit, with a fisherman’s hat and rain boots. I almost started looking for a “call if found” tag on his clothing because it was such an odd mix.
Once both eyes worked fully, I saw that one of the ducks was having a ball with an object. Leaning over, I realized it was a wallet, and he was almost to the water with it! I ran over startling the old man back a couple steps and snatched up the wallet from the angry duck. Now there’s a sentence for you! Have you ever been slapped by a duck? Well now I can say I have. Wing right to the face! Anyways, something fell out of the wallet and I bent over to pick it up. There smiling back at me was the most lovely face of a woman in a black and white photo, with what I could only imagine were the reddest lips and whitest pearls.
I handed both to the old man saying, “Yours? She’s pretty.” He said, “Yep, both mine.” He smiled a little, then said, “This is my Minnie. Married 43 years a few months ago. Though she swears up and down it’s been 45.” He added grinning. He had the most lovely gap between his front teeth that could be seen when he smiled. He threw more seed and crumbs before saying, “She used to feed them everyday during the summer before she died.” He motioned toward the birds and ducks throwing some more. I asked, “Is that why you’re doing it? Because she did?” He said, “Naw, I do it cuz if one of them remembers and misses her even a fraction of what I do, this could bring it comfort. Animals feel too ya know.” Then he threw the last of his seeds and breadcrumbs for the day. He nodded me thanks with a gesture of his wallet, placed it back in his suit coat pocket and trudged back in his rain boots to his old pickup. As he drove away, I stayed a second and watched those ducks and birds, wandering if they could remember an old lady doing them an act of kindness.
I stayed up late that night thinking about the day’s events and found myself walking back that way the next day. There he was, at the same time, same place, in his suit and rain boots throwing seed and crumbs. I walked up and smiled. He gave me his gap toothed grin. We talked about ‘his Minnie’ everyday, while avoiding a certain duck that I swear was giving me the evil eye.
A month later, he stopped coming. I swear he and Minnie are standing there together while I throw out seeds and breadcrumbs. I still feed the birds everyday during the summer, just in case one of them remembers those acts of kindness. I remember and I can recall him saying “Even the smallest acts can make the biggest and most memorable impressions on a being’s soul. Be it animal or man, I want my impression to be a beautiful one like Minnie’s.”
I find myself thinking now with every new person and creature I meet if I can do something that will stay with them and maybe come to mind on a rainy day; something that could bring them happiness or hope. Could my small act matter that much to another being? Just in case they do remember, I live life a little more like Minnie now.