These Men Sharing A Meal With A Widow Went Viral For An Amazing Reason
A small act of kindness can go a long way. How do we know? In April 2019, Facebook user Jamario Howard shared a post reminding people to always be kind to others. And he led by example.
On April 18, 2019, Howard and his two friends, JaMychol Baker and Tae Knight, went out to eat at Brad’s Bar-B-Que in Oxford, Alabama. It wasn’t a special occasion for Howard and his friends – they were simply going out to eat and enjoy each other’s company.
This is an act that seems so normal, so pedestrian, that sometimes we forget how special and vital things like shared meals are to our happiness and health.
So when Howard saw an elderly woman at the barbecue restaurant sitting by herself, he decided to take action. Instead of assuming that someone else would meet her there or that she was fine eating by herself, he did something about it – and the internet lauded Howard for his kind, simple act.
What did he do that was so monumental?
He asked the woman if she would like to eat dinner with him and his friends.
Yes, it was really that simple. He saw this woman eating by herself and decided to reach out. It is such an easy but powerful act, and Howard reminded everyone of this when he shared his experience on Facebook.
Grab some tissues, this one’s a tear-jerker.
When Howard first saw the woman, he knew he had to say something.
“So tonight JaMychol Baker, Tae Knight, and myself went out to eat at this place called Brads in Oxford, and after us sitting there a while waiting on our food I noticed an elderly woman sitting alone,” Howard wrote in the fateful post.
“My exact [thought] was, ‘Dang I’d hate to have to eat alone,'” he continued.
After weighing his options, Howard decided to act.
“So after thinking about it a minute I walked over.”
“And I asked if I could sit with her. She said yes and we talked a minute.”
Once they got to talking a little more, Howard discovered that she was not waiting for anyone.
Most people in the situation might talk for a moment, wish the woman a nice day, and then be back with their friends. But that is not what Howard decided to do.
Howard learned why she was eating alone.
“We talked for a minute, and after a while of talking she told me she lost her husband and that tomorrow would have been their 60th anniversary,” Howard shared.
He didn’t want her to dine alone on this sad anniversary.
So Howard invited Baker to eat with him and his friends.
“I instantly gave my condolences and asked her to come eat with us.”
Howard said that the woman, Eleanor Baker, was excited to join Howard and his friends for the meal.
And everyone benefited from the shared meal.
The group of four had dinner, swapped stories. Howard learned a lot from the experience, and he felt compelled to share it on Facebook. Once he did, it instantly went viral.
Everyone was inspired by his generous spirit.
Especially Baker, who clearly did not go to the restaurant with any expectation of dining with others.
“I think it was a God thing,” Baker noted.
And the woman felt like it was more than just a simple meal. In fact, it was a near-miraculous experience for her, and she gave God the credit.
Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways.
She told Steve Hartman during a segment for the CBS Evening News that she believed God sent her to the restaurant to meet Howard and his friends that night.
She also said the world needed an example to show that “people care about other people.”
And Howard seemed to mirror at least some of that sentiment.
He said we should “always be kind to people [because we] never know what they are going through.”
“This woman changed my outlook on life and how I look at other people,” he said.
“Everyone has a story so do not judge!” He added. We know, it can be difficult, but why not give it a shot?
This is definitely easier said than done.
But Howard brings up an amazing point. Sometimes, we can get stuck on what’s going on in our lives. The fact is, everyone is going through something – it’s not just you.
Just a simple “hello” is all it takes.
Chances are, they’d be happy to tell you and the conversation could just take a weight off their shoulders.
Luckily, Baker isn’t alone outside of this experience.
Although she lost her husband, Baker is lucky to have a large family.
However, most of her children and grandchildren live out of state,
This is why she is used to eating alone. And this is a sad reality for a lot of the elderly population. And this social isolation can present some health risks.
Howard reminded folks to do their part, too:
“People I can’t stress this enough,” Howard wrote in his post. “GO SEE YOUR MOM AND YOUR GRANDPARENTS. They miss you!!”
Some people may not be in contact with their family for valid reasons.
But if you just haven’t made the time to keep the connection strong, maybe take a cue from Howard’s book.
Rather than thinking to yourself, “I don’t call Grandma enough,” just call her!
There’s no bad time to pay your parents or grandparents a visit, shoot them a text, or give them a call. They’re always happy to hear from you.
We’re not kidding.
Seriously, people. Call them!
They’ll feel good. You’ll feel good. It’s a win-win.
“When we left there, [Eleanor] was all we talked about,” JaMychol said.
JaMychol told CBS Evening News that he and his friends enjoyed the experience as much as, if not more than, Baker.
“When you make that kind of connection with somebody, it’s hard to let it go,” Tae Knight added.
“I already feel like we’re her grandkids,” Howard said.
Howard became an overnight internet hero.
“What sweet boys you and your friends are,” one Facebook user commented on Howard’s post.
“I’m so glad you posted this, so others can share this great story, and we can spread the LOVE that is out there in this world.”
Another commenter added, “What wonderful young men. Were raised right. Bless you both.”
“Outstanding! You young men are true gentlemen and compassionate caring individuals. Awesome job,” someone else commented.
And when his story went to Twitter, the applause continued.
Too many of us would have looked the other way, not wanting to involve ourselves in someone else’s life.
But the fact that Howard and his friends took it upon themselves to show love and support tells us a lot about their character.
Howard gained a lot of new friends.
And we think it’s safe to say that all of us would love to share a table with Howard and his friends.
TBH, we’d share a table with Eleanor Baker any day of the week, too!
There’s more than enough love in this world to go around, right?
This should be the new normal.
“This should be the normal not the abnormal,” Twitter user Stephen Kennedy wrote.
We would love to live in a place where this kind of stuff isn’t news at all, but just day-to-day life.
Okay, but who has the tissues? Anyone?
And we can start to normalize this kindness by looking inward.
Just like any kind of movement, the change starts with each one of us.Taking it upon ourselves to be kinder to others and pass out compassion on the regular is the best way to make the world a better place.
Plus, sharing is caring.
Although some may not find it necessary to toot their own horn when they do something good, sharing feel-good stories also inspires kindness to take hold in other peoples’ hearts.
Howard’s post went viral.
Over 275,000 people loved what they saw and perhaps decided to incorporate more kindness into their daily lives.
Inspiration to do good is always a great thing.
“I want to change the world somehow,” Howard said.
“I don’t know how,” Howard told CBS Evening News. “I’m not rich, I’m not famous, and I’m not very smart, either, so I can’t be the president.”
“But, we can show the world that it’s alright to be kind,” he continued.
“And then before long, maybe the world will be a much better place.”
We think Howard and his friends are already on their way to changing the world for the better.
They’re demanding greatness from others.
And we are more than willing to answer their call to action. We can’t be the only ones – who else felt inspired to go out and do some good in the world after hearing about Howard’s story?
But we aren’t all going to get chance encounters like Howard.
Howard saw an opportunity to be kind and took it. But what if you aren’t dining out on the regular?
How do you reach out to others – especially the elderly community – who may need support?
Here are ways to help the elderly in your community:
Spend time at a senior center.
This one is obvious, but many people may not try to volunteer at a senior center simply because they don’t know how. The good news is it’s super easy to do.
Just contact your local senior center.
Trust us when we say they will be thrilled to hear you want to spend time with their residents. Plus, you’ll get to learn and grow from their stories – just like Howard.
Or volunteer for a hotline.
The Institute of Aging has a 24-hour, toll-free number called the Friendship Line. It’s for folks ages 60 and older and adults living with disabilities. Volunteers reach out to these often isolated individuals.
There are seniors at risk for suicide.
This is such a problem in our country. Because so many seniors are left on their own for whatever reason, rates of suicide among seniors has risen – and the risk increases with age.
Simply listening to a senior citizen could save their life.
And honestly, what are you learning from scrolling through your eighth grade ex-boyfriend’s Instagram for twenty minutes? Use that time to make a positive impact on the world.
And there are other things to do besides chit-chat.
If sitting and talking isn’t your thing, there are other ways you can reach out to seniors. For example, you can volunteer for a service like Meals on Wheels and deliver food to seniors unable to leave their homes.
Play an instrument? Bring it with.
Music therapy presents loads of benefits for senior citizens. Even if you are not a certified in music therapy, you can still bring your guitar or small keyboard and play for your local senior center.
Offer to do chores.
If you want to help out a senior citizen who’s still living independently, consider offering to help with the more physical chores. Laundry, washing dishes, and doing yardwork can take a huge physical and financial burden off of seniors.
Teach them about technology.
Sometimes younger generations can take for granted how intuitive technology seems to us.
But not everyone takes to an iPhone like a duck on water.
For Baby Boomers and even some older Gen X-ers, however, it isn’t as easy to pick up, as they didn’t grow up with it. Help a senior citizen set up an email account, learn how to text emojis, or how to reboot their computer.
If you stay present and take in your surroundings like Howard (instead of, say, idly scrolling through your phone as you wait for friends to meet you at a restaurant), you will encounter opportunities to help those around you.
It could be the smallest thing.
Maybe someone need help reading a menu. Or maybe a senior needs assistance carrying their groceries to their car.
Again, it may seem like a tiny thing to you:
But to someone else, a tiny gesture like helping them cross the street could mean the world.