It startled me to hear my son spontaneously singing Happy Birthday to Harry. Harry, a senior living community resident, was attending a reception with a group of high school students. The students had just concluded a musical program at the residence.
Someone had informed my son that Harry had a birthday that same day. At that Happy Birthday moment, Harry became one of my son’s adopted Grandparents.
I knew Harry well. Other than other residents and staff, Harry had no one — he was a senior adult orphan. His wife had passed away a few years earlier. If he had family, nobody knew who they were. Some thought he might have a shirt-tail relative or two living in a distant state, but no one came to visit or contact him.
Harry, like every elder person, had a special story. His was very, very special.
Harry appeared on the cover of Look Magazine during World War II. Joined in the photo with a handful of U.S. G I s, Harry and his fellow soldiers had invaded North Africa. He served on General Dwight David Eisenhower’s staff, knew the General personally and had regular contact with him.
At that time, I had been reading a biography about Ike, but if I really wanted to know about Eisenhower all I needed to do was ask Harry.
“We have a problem,” Harry said emphatically one day as he walked into my office. His words stunned and surprised me. I knew I had a great relationship with Harry and I certainly was not aware of any issues or concerns between us.
“What is the problem Harry?” I asked.
“I want to adopt your son,” he answered.
A couple of years after that meeting in my office I read the Life Bio Harry had put together. He shared it with me. In it he described the day his life totally changed because of his “adopted son.”
Never in my wildest imagination could I have envisioned we would someday have a “member” of our family who personally knew General Eisenhower. Neither did I know how a simple act of kindness could so powerfully change a man’s life.
You never know what a day will bring.