There was an old woman whom I watched walk the streets with her husband and tiny dog when I first began crushing coffee beans for flavor extraction. The old man would pick up trash while she wrangled the dog. Now the picture exists without her husband.

Remembering what the woman ordered on the rare occasion she came in and had something, I made her usual and brought it out to her as she slowly passed the establishment, picking up the trash of others as her husband had before her.

“Ma’am,” I offered.

Stopping, she tilted her head and gave me a look of confusion.

“You have not been by in a while and I thought...” I spoke, then extended the cup.

“Thank you,” she answered, accepting the beverage.

She appeared appreciative. I wanted to ask about her husband, but the emptiness on her face seemed to say enough. I did not know the details, whether he was alive and ill or had died, but it was clear she missed her husband.

“Stop by sometime. It’s regulars like you that make work worth coming to,” I lied, because that was not the reason I came to work, why any of us showed up for work.

“Thank you,” she said again.

Another awkward pause. Then I verbally puked: “How is your husband? Haven’t seen him walking with you in a while.”

“He died,” she said slowly in a heavy, empty whisper. “He wasn’t very healthy for a long time. That’s why we walked, to get him healthier.”

“I’m sorry,” were the only words that did not appear inappropriate...yet so inadequate.

“I miss him,” she said, her eyes glazing over as tears swelled.

What does one say in such situations...

“Thank you,” she said anxiously and turned and walked away, her perky, peppy dog leading the way. She stopped and bent to pick up the trash of others.

Standing, watching the old woman clean up the filth of the filth, making the world a better place, one cannot help but feel a bit of joy for her lucky husband; whatever happened in his life, he was truly loved, is truly loved, and missed. Not by the dog skipping over the plants to mark his territory, but by the woman with whom he shared his life, by someone who really knew him.

To be loved by a good person who intimately knows you suggests that you have been on the side of good, no matter how imperfect your life may have been. Even in death, it would appear that he is lucky man.

Watching the woman pick up trash as she walked the street, remembering her husband at her side, makes you realize the calm, quiet of good will persevere, cleaning the rude, indifference of the filth without complaint.

The measure of a man is marked by the memories he leaves.