A waiter noticed that a guest was having a seizure. What happened next is heart-rending.
For people with cerebral palsy, everyday tasks like brushing teeth, writing a note, or tying shoelaces can be an unimaginable struggle. Lee Bondurant, who lives with this congenital disorder, and his mother Linda are well aware of these difficulties.
The two recently celebrated Lee's birthday with a dinner in Raleigh, North Carolina when Lee began having trouble using his hands. This was not entirely unusual. What was unusual was when someone approached his table and did something that amazed everyone at the table.
Living with Cerebral Palsy
Living with this disability can make even the simplest tasks incredibly challenging. Lee Bondurant, a 51-year-old who has spent his whole life with the condition, knows this all too well. Over the years, Lee had learned to live with this tricky disease.
He had a circle of friends and family who supported him in leading an independent, self-determined life to the extent that the disease allowed.
Courage to live despite the illness
Despite deciding not to let his congenital disorder define him, Lee was aware that it played a central role in his life. This was evident even in his job at Kroger's supermarket.
He had his good and bad days and had learned not to let them get him down. His co-workers were always friendly and helpful, admiring his good spirits and positive energy that he brought to his shifts every day.
An Unforgettable Birthday
When he recently had his birthday, he decided to celebrate it with his mother Linda, some family members, and friends. They decided to go to the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Little did he know, despite all the excitement for the evening, it turned out to be one of his bad days. However, this evening soon became one of the most important days of his life. But more on that later...
Physically Restricted but a Brave Spirit
Cerebral palsy causes trembling hands in those affected. Everyday tasks such as holding a glass of water, bringing a fork to one's mouth, or operating a mobile phone become nearly impossible. It is a frustrating and humbling situation for those affected.
However, Lee was not willing to let it defeat him. On the contrary, he did what few healthy people would dare to do. He decided to take a skydiving leap and found supporters immediately!
The Evening that Changed Lee's Life
Going back to the Oyster Bar, Lee's birthday dinner quickly turned into a more complex task shortly after the evening began. His hands trembled, and he could no longer use his cutlery, let alone bring it to his mouth.
Although his mother was by his side to help him, she was unable to enjoy her own meal as a result. This was not unusual for mother and son. His mother had sacrificed her own interests countless times before. She loved Lee and would do anything for him. Everyone knows that a cold dinner is a trivial matter for a mother.
The Saving Angel
Then something happened that had never happened before. Their waiter, a college student nicknamed "Five," noticed the situation unfolding at Lee's table.
At first, Lee feared that it would be the usual question of whether to call a doctor. They had also been informed a few times that other guests were feeling disturbed. But no one could predict Five's reaction.
"He casually approached the table and asked Lee if he had ever eaten oysters. And of course, Lee said no," Linda, his mother, recalled. "Then Five simply asked if he could serve Lee his first oysters," Linda gushed.
It was incredibly compassionate, designed not to embarrass Lee. It only took a few moments, and Five returned to the table with a tray of fresh oysters. And as if it were the most natural thing in the world, he helped Lee with his meal.
A visibly moved mother
Linda was simply amazed by Five's warm-heartedness and generosity. "To have a total stranger come and help in such a lovely way touches a mother's heart deeply, especially when her child has special needs," Linda explained later.
She described how many people are helpful in everyday life, and they are always grateful for the diverse support that both Lee and she receive. Of course, there are also negative examples, people staring, heartless remarks, and those who make fun of her son at his expense.
Exceptional, warm-hearted, helpful
But they had never encountered kindness like Five's. As if it was nothing, the busy waiter had stopped his work, grabbed a spoon, and started feeding Lee.
Lee, who had been looking forward to his birthday celebration and the meal all day, who was on the verge of tears after the seizure, was suddenly happier than ever. Five's help was far from the job description of a waiter, and Lee's mother was simply speechless.
Five respected Lee's dignity
Five's kindness deeply moved Lee as well. He was aware that most people would rather move on than help him. Obviously, this waiter was something special. An empathetic person who cared about his fellow human beings.
Even today, Lee has tears of joy in his eyes when he talks about that evening, when he thinks of Five. Moments like these are what give him courage and strength to keep going in the darkest moments of his illness.
Help that comes from the heart
Best of all, Five approached it in a way that didn't humiliate or embarrass Lee! It was the overall professionalism of the waiter that impressed the birthday boy and his mother the most during their grand celebration.
At no point did Lee feel inferior or incapable, or feel the need to be ashamed. Five talked to him like any other guest in the restaurant, and he made feeding Lee seem as normal as placing a plate for the other guests at the table.
One can make mistakes while helping and trigger shame
Lee was used to taking care of things himself, and usually declined this kind of support. But Five's genuine warmth was hard to refuse. But how did others react when they heard this story?
The restaurant had been fully occupied that evening. Neither Lee's seizure nor the support from his mother and later from Five went unnoticed by the other guests. As usual, there were amazed faces and whispers.
Sharing the great experience online
When they returned home, Linda shared the picture of her son and the waiter on her Facebook page. It didn't take long for people to express their respect for what Five had done. Even the local news media were interested in an interview!
The story was heartwarming. It felt good to read that there were still helpful angels. Linda also wanted to encourage other families to overcome shame and show the world that this was just a normal meal among friends, even when living with cerebral palsy.
Lee insisted on letting everyone know how grateful he was to Five for that evening. "That was the ultimate kindness he showed me," he told reporters. "I really appreciate what he did, an act of true compassion."
Many people would pity him. That doesn't help him move forward. It regularly makes him feel bad. Being pitied doesn't feel good. Genuine compassion, empathy, warmth, and support, on the other hand, are what drive him to keep living.
An enthusiastic boss
Five was not at work when reporters visited the 42nd St. Oyster Bar. But his boss emphasized that he was proud of his employee. "We are fortunate to have someone like Five working for us," manager Ryan Tyson said.
His restaurant relies on regular customers. A friendly, attentive, helpful interaction with guests is very important. But there had never been a waiter as compassionate as Five. That's not something you can learn in training. It comes from the heart.
A new regular customer
Since that evening, Lee has become a regular customer as well. Whenever he has the opportunity and can afford a nice evening with high-quality food, he visits the 42nd St. Oyster Bar.
The evening helped Lee endure his anger, frustration, and frustration on bad days. Whenever he has a particularly bad seizure again, he remembers the kindness in Five's heart.
The Surprised Helper
When Five, who doesn't have any social media accounts, finally found out that his photo with Lee had gone viral, he couldn't believe the flood of support. People from all over the world even wrote him letters!
Some of these people offered to help Five in ways he could have never expected. Being a humble man, he quickly declined, of course. "I go to the gas station and someone wants to buy me gas, I naturally say 'No!'" he laughs.
Despite all the media hype, fan letters, and offers of assistance, Five remained incredibly humble. He did not want what he had done for Lee that day to be labeled as a heroic act.
"Seafood is best eaten hot, so I didn't want their food to get cold. I didn't want Lisa's food to get cold, and I didn't want Lee's food to get cold," he said, downplaying his compassion. "I just wanted to help a fellow human being."
Since that birthday dinner, Lee has returned to the 42nd St. Oyster Bar a few times to visit his new friend. Every time they saw each other, Lee had the opportunity to express how much Five meant to him.
Fortunately, his illness allowed him to have particularly enjoyable evenings recently, where he could enjoy his meal without the help of others. However, Five makes it clear that on a bad day, he would not hesitate to help Lee with his food again.
A lifelong friendship
Although Five hadn't necessarily expected to find a lifelong friend when he offered to help Lee with his meal that evening, it seems that's exactly what happened. It just goes to show how a little kindness can change a person's life in many ways!
This should give us all the courage to step out of our comfort zones. To help when someone needs our assistance while preserving their dignity. A "Wait, I'll help you!" may be well-intentioned. But a calm, empathetic "May I assist you?" often makes people feel much more comfortable.