Man makes comment about elderly man’s cart, ends up celebrating deceased wife’s birthday with him

"I made the comment, 'it looks like you've got a big night planned. He glanced up at me with the saddest eyes I believe I've ever seen and told me his story."
July 24, 2018 5:10 pm Last Updated: July 24, 2018 5:10 pm

After years of sharing a loving marriage, it can be difficult to come to terms with a partner’s passing. Especially hard are birthdays and anniversaries.

When Gregory R. Johnson found out how an elderly man coped with grief on his late wife’s birthday, he couldn’t help but be moved to do something for him.

Johnson was in a Kroger grocery store in Indiana on July 17, when he met a man identified only as Jim.

Jim was an elderly man who was restricted to a motorized scooter to navigate the grocery store. But it was what Jim had inside of his scooter’s basket that caught Johnson’s attention.

“He had a dozen roses and a big birthday cake in his cart,” Johnson wrote on Facebook. “I made the comment, ‘it looks like you’ve got a big night planned.'”

“He glanced up at me with the saddest eyes I believe I’ve ever seen and told me his story.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another individual so sad …..and pitiful looking .

Posted by Gregory R. Johnson on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Jim’s wife passed away five years ago, but he never stopped celebrating her birthday. Every year, he would purchase a cake, display a bouquet of roses he bought for her, and cut a piece of cake for each of them.

And he did it all by himself.

Johnson was overcome with compassion after hearing the man’s story. He knew he had to do something to lighten Jim’s grief.

“My heart just broke. I was just devastated and he looked completely broken. And I knew that I wanted to do whatever I could in that moment to take his mind off of his heartbreak,” Johnson told CBS News.

The two conversed casually in the grocery store, and Johnson said giving Jim an opportunity to talk about the life he shared with his wife appeared to make the senior happier.

Jim told him he’d met his wife while they were in high school. Jim was the star of his high school basketball team, and his wife, Gloria, was a cheerleader for their rival school.

After the two schools faced each other, Jim asked her to come watch him play the following night. The rest was history, and they went on to spend 53 years of marital bliss together.

Jim is smiling now and sharing stories of his wonderful wife that he was married to for 53 years !

Posted by Gregory R. Johnson on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

As their 90-minute conversation came to a close, Jim asked if Johnson would be willing to come back to his home to celebrate Gloria’s birthday, and put the roses on display.

“I simply looked at him and told him I’d be honored to sit at his table and have a piece of cake with him in remembrance of his wife,” Johnson wrote on Facebook.

The two men ate cake, shared shared stories, and looked at old photos together. They both had a great time, and Johnson said he and Jim are planning to get together again soon.

“Hopefully I made that little old man’s night a tad bit better,” Johnson wrote, “because he certainly made mine one of the best I’ve had in a long time.”