A.J.

As I sit her jet lagged, I have been going over my last trip in my mind. I am thinking about the ups and the downs. But there is one part of this trip that I cannot stop thinking about, it is about a man that I meet at the airport, A.J.

Now maybe it is because A.J. reminded me of my own grandfather, or even my dad, or even me, it is funny how we meet people along our journey that I believe we were destined to meet. Some may call it a coincidence, others fate, but I like to call them God stories. I met A.J. when we were stuck in an airport in Italy because of the fire in one of the terminals of the Rome airport. It is funny how small the world actually is, because A.J. lives just a few hours away from where I live. Now, if I am being completely honest I am usually the guy that sits in the airport and on the plane with my headphones on and not talking to anyone. I am generally a pretty shy person. But after being stuck in the airport for over 12 hours already, the only way to stay sane was to talk to those around you. I noticed that an elderly couple was looking for a place to sit together. I had an empty seat next to me so I got up and let this couple have these two seats. A.J. saw this happen, and he got up and thanked me for doing that. He said he has been in that situation before, with him being 79, he said sometimes he just needs to sit down. But he started asking me questions, because he thought it was weird that a “kid” my age still had manners. How sad is that, in which other generations are looking down on us with disappointment.

This was a wakeup call for me. Now, I know that I am very blessed to have been raised by my family the way that I was. I told A.J., as I tell others that “my mama raised me right”. But it is scary how many mama’s didn’t raise kids right now. Manners and chivalry seem to be long lost dreams that women only dream about finding in a man, but never actually do. But it was good talking to A.J. and hearing his life story and us sharing God stories. We ended up talking well into the night waiting on our last flight out to Rome. We shared stories of travel, life, love, and the pursuit of knowledge. (Yes I know that I am an old soul). Don’t take for granted the time that you have. A.J. kept reminding me that we only have one shot at life and not to waste it. He said to spend time with those that you love. Travel the world. And most importantly never stop learning. He was telling me how he just taught himself how to speak Romanian and now he is teaching himself Italian. At 79. Now that is a leader that never stops learning. And how can you not listen to him. He has successfully raised kids, grandkids, and now he is helping raise great grandkids. His drive to never stop learning is truly inspiring.

So next time you are in an airport, or just going through life, don’t forget to stop and take time to meet new people. You never know who you might meet, and you never know how they might impact your life. Meeting A.J. wasn’t just a chance encounter, but a God story that was waiting to happen. Take the time to make a new friend. And never stop learning!

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