Blue Like Tony

I learned today that Tony died.

To be honest, I didn’t exactly remember his name, although it was printed on the employee tag that he’d always worn. But when the baby and I went to the grocery store, after dropping off my oldest at preschool, I saw a display set up, blocking check stand 13.

I stood off to the side for a minute, staring at the flower bouquets, the framed photographs, the cards and pieces of paper taped up, words scrawled across them. A lady was standing in front of it with her cart, staring at everything. I waited until she moved away.

As she left, our eyes met; hers had that grave look of solidarity that people get when something bad has happened, in the news. Can you believe it? Isn’t it terrible?

That’s when I realized: someone had died. As I got closer to the largest photograph, I thought Uh-oh…I hope that’s not who I think it is.

It was. It was the tall man with the gray hair and mustache and the paunchy belly, the one who always smiled at you and kept up a cheerful patter and joked with your boys, even when they gave him that silent, sober stare that toddlers are so good at. The man who remembered little things about you. The friendliest cashier that the grocery store had. Continue reading