We never know what life holds in store for us, even when it comes to something as simple as a visit to your favorite local eatery. This is the story of a widow who went out to eat by herself one evening and the unexpected turn of events that occurred while she was at the restaurant. Read on to learn what happened that night and why she attracted the attention of a complete stranger.
Dinner For One
When an 80-year-old widow named Eleanor Baker ventured out to have dinner at her favorite restaurant one evening, she didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen. She was just going to enjoy a quiet meal by herself and revisit some old memories.
While she did eat alone at times, this night was particularly meaningful for Ms. Baker. It turns out that there happened to be a special anniversary that she was thinking about.
Some Memories Are Painful
Have you ever dined alone at a restaurant? Many people haven’t and assume it’s a lonely experience, being all by yourself and watching other tables full of families or friends enjoying a meal together as a group.
Loneliness was at the forefront of Eleanor Baker’s mind this evening at the restaurant. But it wasn’t just the fact that she was alone that was gnawing at her. There was more to it than that.
It Was A Momentous Date
The reason that Ms. Baker was dining alone this particular night was that she was a widow. She and her husband had been blessed in their life together and had spent nearly 60 years as a married couple until his death a couple of years earlier.
In fact, this was the day before their 60th wedding anniversary. As she was lost in her thoughts and memories of the beautiful marriage she and her husband had shared, Eleanor was not paying much attention to anyone else at the restaurant.
A Popular Restaurant
Eleanor Baker certainly wasn’t the only patron visiting the restaurant this evening. Brad’s Bar-B-Que was one of the most popular places to eat in the town of Oxford, Alabama. People would drive in from all over the state to get a taste of their delicious food in a comfortable and laid-back atmosphere.
Brad’s was one of Ms. Baker’s favorite places to eat, so it made sense that it’s where she chose to dine on the anniversary of her 60th wedding anniversary.
She Didn’t Notice Anything At First
As her thoughts were focused on memories of her beloved husband and the six decades they’d shared together, Ms. Baker wasn’t too tuned in to what was going on inside the bustling restaurant on this busy night.
She was there just to eat a quiet meal, alone with her memories. She had no idea that someone there that night was focused intently on her. Why had she attracted a stranger’s attention and what did he want?
Trying To Enjoy The Moment
Although she was sad, Baker knew that it was better to try and focus on enjoying the meal. After all, her husband certainly wouldn’t want to see her feeling down or despondent. He’d want her to continue living her life and enjoying all the good things it had to offer.
Eleanor began to read through the menu to decide what sounded best to her. She might be alone but she could certainly appreciate something good to eat.
Time To Eat
After Baker decided what to eat and had placed her order, the food was delivered to her table. She settled in to enjoy the meal she had chosen, still lost in thought.
As she ate, however, a realization set in. Baker gradually began to notice that someone was watching her. And as her awareness deepened, she was surprised to see that it wasn’t just one person who was staring at her. It was a table full of people.
Ignoring The Situation
To Eleanor Baker’s astonishment, there was a table of young men who were all looking at her. She had no idea why they were interested in her and figured it was best to ignore them.
If you’ve ever tried to ignore someone while they were staring intently at you, you might understand how difficult it can be. Baker did her best to focus on eating her meal and not paying attention to the young men.
Why Had They Started Staring?
It was evident that the people who were focused on her had something to say. Baker couldn’t figure out what that might be and it made her increasingly uncomfortable.
She simply wanted to enjoy her meal and reminisce about those 60 loving years of marriage. But no matter how hard she tried to ignore the young men, she couldn’t. They would not stop looking at her and it was terribly distracting, to the point where she began to feel nervous.
Not Looking For A Confrontation
Understandably, given the circumstances, Baker was not in the mood to have a conversation or confrontation with these strangers. Although it was a sad evening for her, she didn’t want to ruin the special memories she was savoring by getting into an awkward encounter with people she didn’t even know.
As she continued to try and focus on her meal, she realized that the young men weren’t staring at her anymore.
The people at the table across the room had indeed stopped staring at Ms. Baker. But it wasn’t because they’d lost interest in her. In fact, one of the young men was now walking toward her table. She was nervous and didn’t know what to expect or what he might say.
Baker could only sit here silently as he approached. Soon enough, she’d know why they had been looking at her so intently.
As Baker sat and watched the young man near her table, she wondered what on earth he might have to say. She was certain she’d never seen him before and had no idea why he and his friends were interested in her to the point that they had been staring as she tried to eat.
Eleanor Baker certainly didn’t expect him to say what he did. He opened his mouth to speak as soon as he reached her table.
The Young Man Spoke
Once he reached Ms. Baker’s table, the young man said, “I saw you sitting alone over here.” Clearly, she was alone, but why did he feel the need to come over and point out the obvious?
The mysterious man then clarified. “Do you mind having some company?” He was asking if Ms. Baker, all alone, would like to eat her dinner with him and his friends. The young men weren’t being threatening when they looked at her, just the opposite.
All Out On The Table
Now that it was clear to Baker what it was that this kind stranger was offering, she loosened up and allowed herself to relax. He and his friends had been watching her because they were concerned that an elderly woman was eating her dinner alone and she was touched by his sweet offer.
Ms. Baker and her new friend began to chat and she started to open up to him. She even told him the reason for her solo visit to the restaurant.
An Empathetic Soul
Let’s meet this young man who had so much sympathy for a lonely widow dining alone at a restaurant. His name is Jamario Howard, just 23 years old. He was out at Brad’s with his friends Tae Knight and JaMychol Baker when they spotted Eleanor Baker.
Despite the fact that she was trying to look happy, it was clear to the men that Ms. Baker could use some friends this evening. Howard later told CBS that he hates seeing people eating alone.
He Was Moved By Her Story
This kind young man was really moved when he learned why the elderly woman he was speaking with was at a restaurant all by herself. A 60th wedding anniversary is a very big deal and he felt sad that she was alone on such a momentous day.
He thought a moment and asked her if she’d like to come and join him and his friends at their table. It didn’t take much convincing; Ms. Baker was glad to join these young men even though she didn’t know any of them before this evening.
Documented On Facebook
Jamario Howard posted his account of the evening to Facebook. He wrote about the moment that they’d spotted Ms. Baker. “My exact thought was, ‘Dang I’d hate to have to eat alone,'” he shared. “So after thinking about it a minute I walked over to her and asked if I could sit with her.”
When he learned why she was alone, Howard was full of sympathy. “After a while of talking she told me she lost her husband and that tomorrow would have been their 60th anniversary,” Howard wrote. “I instantly gave my condolences and asked her to come eat with us, which she was excited to do.”
Howard Could Tell She Was A Little Nervous
Eleanor Baker had certainly had some reservations when she was first approached by the unfamiliar young man. After all, she had no idea why he and his friends had been paying close attention to her as she sat alone.
It turns out that Howard was well aware that she was a bit nervous during their initial encounter. He later told BBC that she “had a look on her face when I approached her.”
The Story Went Viral
Jamario Howard’s social media posts about meeting Eleanor Baker quickly went viral. People loved hearing the story of a young group of friends who went out of their way to befriend a lonely widow who was eating alone on what would have been her 60th wedding anniversary.
Strangers left comments on Howard’s Facebook page saying that he was an angel and thanking him for his kind actions. He later admitted that he was a bit overwhelmed by some of the supportive comments he got from total strangers!
Social Media Reactions
After his post about Baker went viral, Howard received thousands of likes and comments from around the world. People were delighted by Howard’s actions and they quickly let him know about it. One Facebook user wrote, “On behalf of humanity; thank you.”
Another said, “Spread the love and remember that what goes around comes around!” As for Howard, he told BBC, “It’s been a bit overwhelming at times, thousands have been in touch, but I’ve enjoyed meeting lots of people.”
Eleanor Baker Was Truly Grateful
During their shared meal together, the group of new friends talked about Baker’s life. They learned about her children and her dog and she was happy to share her story.
Later on, in an interview with CBS, she recalled the event and said, “it was really just a nice, pleasant evening.” In fact, she was so grateful for Howard’s kind intervention that she admitted, “I think it was a God thing. I think God sent me there” to meet him and his friends.
“This Woman Changed My Outlook On Life”
Although it was the group of young men, led by Jamario Howard, who reached out to Ms. Baker, they got a lot out of the encounter as well. As Howard explained on Facebook, “The point in this is always kind and be nice to people,” an important lesson for anyone to learn.
“You never know what they are going through. Everyone has a story so do not judge! And people [I] can’t stress this enough. GO SEE YOUR MOM AND YOUR GRANDPARENTS. They miss you!”
Howard’s Friends Truly Enjoyed The Meeting
In a CBS interview, Jamario Howard’s friends spoke about how much the evening had meant to them. “…When we left there, that’s all we talked about,” recalled Tae Knight. And JaMychol Baker said, “When you make that kind of connection with somebody, it’s hard to let it go.” Howard added, “I already feel like we’re her grandkids.”
It goes to show how important it is to reach out to others, even strangers, who might need help. “I want people to see that it’s okay to be kind,” said Howard.
Caring For Our Elderly
Of course, it’s important to maintain our relationships with our family and friends, but it’s also vital that we occasionally reach out to others who are in need. This is especially true when it comes to the elderly, who often suffer from loneliness.
It’s a lesson Howard wishes everyone could learn. “I can’t stress this enough, people,” he shared on Facebook. “Look at your mother and your grandparents. They’re missing you!!!!”
Howard Wants To Change The World With One Act Of Kindness At A Time
It might come as no surprise that Jamario Howard has always had big ambitions when it comes to helping others. “I used to say when I was younger, and I still say today, I want to change the world somehow,” he told CBS. “And I don’t know how. I’m not rich. I’m not famous. And I’m not very smart either, so I can’t be president.”
He doesn’t need any of those things with the amount of kindness he carries around in his heart.