“Is that you, Grace?!” she asked, gaping as though she just saw a specter from under the ground.
“Is that you, Irma?!” I asked, duplicating her reaction.
My friend Irma and I had not seen each other in years! So we retreated to the nearest coffee shop and gabbed away the hours. A re-connection now made, we agreed to meet again the next week before her trip back abroad.
On my way to our meeting place, I wondered whether Irma would be there on time. Long ago, she never was. She always had the most imaginative excuses. I never took her tardiness against her, but I never got used to it either.
Every single time, I would be on time and she would be late. A few times I asked her why she never made it to any event on time.
Her answer was a template, “Believe me, I don't want to be late! I always give myself enough time to get ready, but the time flies so fast. Before I know it, the allowance I gave myself is not enough.”
“Then give yourself more time,” I would reply, wondering whether her watch or clocks at home had hands.
“I do, but . . .”
Then she'd be late again.
“I hope you won't be late for your wedding,” I would tease her.
She was. Twice.
I try not to give up on any friend, especially not on Irma. So I went to our appointment on time, banking on the Rolex watch she was wearing when I bumped into her.
But Rolexes (no matter how precisely engineered) are no guarantee for promptness. After all the intervening years (most of them spent in the USA where people are punctual), two husbands and three kids, Irma was late for—I should have predicted that quite easily—30 minutes, her old record. By the time she joined me, I had downed a doughnut and a cup of tea.
“I haven't changed, have I?” she said, her demeanor very contrite.
“And neither have I,” I said.
“You never got used to my sense of time,” she pouted.
“Should I?” I asked, glancing at her Rolex.
“No! Don't, or you'll imbibe my bad habit!”
I wanted to ask, You know it's a bad habit, why keep doing it? But instead I asked, “What are you having?”
“Fun. Friendship. Memories. Grace,” she said. By grace, she didn't mean me. Irma is a fellow follower of Jesus.
“Fun, friendship, and memories coming up!” I said. “Grace would have to come from above.”
“Amen!” she said, breaking into her signature smile.