There was an old man with wispy white hair and a smile that could light up the darkest room, who walked up to me and shook hands with me on my first day on the job.He stuck out his hand and said that his name was Tommy. Tommy was dressed in an old overcoat that had seen much better days, but I could tell that Tommy still had a lot of pride by the manner in which he dressed. Yes, the white shirt cuffs were badly frayed, and the dress slacks needed pressing, but overall his appearance was that of a dignified old grandfather.
It was the week before Christmas, and the air definitely had a Jack Frost bite to it. The owner had put up a Christmas tree in the lobby, and there was a certain holiday feeling, but it was mixed with the feeling of something long past, and something that could never be again.
My mother had sent me a care package from home. Ah yes, my favorite, home made fudge. You know the kind. None of this store bought mix. Nope, genuine, fudge made from the richest, darkest, chocolate.
Oh, it was so good. I took some to work with me that evening. As was his usual custom, Tommy walked up to the desk to greet me.I decided to ask Tommy if he would care for a piece of homemade fudge. Flashing that 1000 watt smile, he said that would be nice.
I cut off a large square of my prize, and gave it to Tommy. I watched in amazement as he took a bite, and tears filled his old eyes. It was as if the windows of his past were laid open for me to see, and in those tears, I saw Tommy's flash back to his own childhood, and a warm kitchen, a Christmas Tree decorated with home made decorations, and a fire in the old wood stove that spread it's warmth and holiday cheer through the old house.
Tommy ate every crumb of that fudge with great care and dignity. When he was done, he smiled at me and said that was the best present that he had in years.
I never saw or heard from Tommy after I left the Carlton. I heard a rumor that he had pneumonia and was very ill. Of course, that was years and years ago. But, last night , Tommy visited me in my dreams, and was still talking about that fudge.