“This is lovely,” Emily remarked to her son, Dean, as the waitress took their order and departed with the menus. Emily wanted to capture Dean’s attention since he was completely engrossed in his phone.
“Yeah, sure,” he muttered, his eyes fixed on the screen. Suddenly, he glanced around. “I wish we could sit somewhere else, away from the bathroom, but I understand we need to consider your wheelchair.”
Emily tried to brush off that somewhat snide remark and took a sip of water from her glass. “Nevertheless, it’s wonderful that we’re able to spend time together after such a long time. How’s college treating you? Are your classes going well? Anything interesting happening on campus?” she inquired, genuinely interested in her child’s life.
Dean rarely reached out after he left for college, and Emily knew he was navigating his own path and relishing his newfound independence. Growing up with a disabled mother must have presented its challenges, despite the occasional assistance from caretakers. She wanted him to fully embrace his own life separate from those difficulties. Nonetheless, it would be great to hear from him.
Therefore, she extended an invitation for a special meal, and she had to plead and plead until he finally agreed. She even resorted to bribing him with his late grandfather’s valuable watch. Perhaps that was the reason he ultimately accepted. Nevertheless, she was determined to find a silver lining.
“Eh, whatever, it’s fine,” he sighed, a half-hearted smile forming on one side of his mouth, as if it was inconsequential.
Emily reached for her water glass, intending to take a sip, but accidentally knocked it against the table, causing the glass to shatter on the floor. The noise was so thunderous that the entire restaurant turned to look, and finally, Dean tore his eyes away from his phone.
“For heaven’s sake! Can’t we have a pleasant dinner without you causing a scene and drawing everyone’s attention? I never wanted to come in the first place, but you kept pestering me! I can’t wait for this night to be over,” Dean erupted, his words filled with more bitterness than Emily had ever heard before.
Her eyes widened in shock at his sudden outburst, fully aware that everyone was still watching. His voice reverberated throughout the entire restaurant. Finally, tears welled up in her eyes, and she began sobbing softly. “Okay, let’s leave now,” she managed to say amidst her tears.
“Great!” Dean exclaimed and swiftly grabbed his chair to get up.
Hold on a moment!” a man approached them, catching Emily’s attention.
She glanced up and noticed the anger etched across his face. His brows were tightly furrowed, his lips downturned, and the wrinkles on his forehead appeared more pronounced under the yellow glow of the overhead lights.
“We’re actually not going to dine here. Please cancel our order,” Dean stated, waving his hand dismissively. However, the man shook his head in disagreement.
“Enough with your dismissive attitude. Sit down,” the man commanded, startling both Dean and Emily. Nervously, her son slowly took his seat as if he was apprehensive. “I overheard your disrespectful outburst just a few moments ago, young man, and I must say, those were the most shocking words I’ve ever heard. I’ve been conversing with my staff nearby, and I’ve come to understand that this woman here is your mother. How could you speak to her in such a way?”
“I… I didn’t,” Dean stammered.
“You didn’t what? Let me tell you, I would give anything to have my mother by my side once more. She taught me invaluable lessons about life, love, hope, and dreams. She raised me single-handedly, despite facing her own disabilities. She had a condition that prevented her from pursuing a typical job. Yet, she raised me, ensuring I never went hungry and never lacked for anything. I suspect this remarkable woman has done the same for you,” the man continued. “Today, I own this restaurant and many others across Chicago, all thanks to her. Sadly, she didn’t live to witness my success.”
Dean lowered his gaze in shame, while Emily fixed her eyes on the restaurant owner, completely absorbed in his story.
“So, reach out to your mother. Have a conversation with her. You have her right here, which is the greatest privilege you’ll ever receive. Strive to be better! Because no matter what you accomplish or how much wealth you amass, you’ll never be regarded as a true man,” the man concluded, his breathing heavy with emotion.
Emily looked at her son and was taken aback to see tears streaming down his cheeks. Before she could utter a word, Dean lifted his head. “I’m deeply sorry, Mom,” he choked out, his face etched with lines of sorrow. Emily longed to embrace him and alleviate his pain.
“Oh, my dear,” she said, and he swiftly rose from his seat, enveloping her in a hug, pleading for forgiveness once more.
“All right, my work here is done. Your meal will be served shortly, and someone will attend to the broken glass promptly,” declared the owner, now identified as Mr. Harris, as he clapped his hands and departed.
Dean settled back in his chair, stowed away his phone, wiped away his tears, and began to speak. “Well, my classes are going fine. A bit monotonous…”
Emily smiled, dabbing her own tears. The rest of the dinner proved to be splendid, thanks to the impactful words from Mr. Harris. From that point forward, Dean never mistreated his mother again.