It was mid-May of 1981. My father had died suddenly of a heart attack about two weeks prior. He died on the same day escrow closed on the first condo my husband and I had bought.
I was in a store in Mountain View on my lunch break, buying a few things for our new home, after recently returning to Northern California after staying with my mom in Pasadena for a couple of weeks after my dad's death. I remember I was walking down the aisle of the store with a plastic blue wastebasket in my hand, and feeling very sad and disoriented. I noticed a man walking towards me, tall, slender, possibly in his late 30s or early 40s, and he was smiling at me.
As I walked past him, he said, 'Excuse me. May I say that you are very beautiful?' I was flattered, of course, because I didn't look beautiful at all, just haggard and exhausted. I replied, 'Thank you. You made my day.' He said, 'Thank *you.*' And then he just kept walking. I didn't give it much more thought after that. Then a week or two later, I was on the other side of town, again on a lunch break. I was putting gas in my car. The gas station wasn't at street level, but further back with an incline leading up to it. I glanced down at the busy street, and noticed a car pull out of traffic rather quickly and park. A few moments later I heard, 'Excuse me.' And it was the same man. He added, 'May I say that you are beautiful?' I remember being tempted to say, 'You already hit me up with that one,' feeling irritated. But I just wearily said, 'Thank you.' And again he said, 'Thank *you.*' Then he walked back down the little hill, and got into the car I'd seen pull up down below, and pulled back into traffic. I never saw him again.
My initial irritation turned to complete puzzlement. There was no way he could have recognized me from behind at a gas pump, while he was in busy traffic. And even if he had, who or what was he? If he didn't recognize me, and was just a weirdo who randomly gave women compliments, how on earth did this coincidence happen? Mountain View, while not huge, is a good-sized city, and I was nowhere near the store where I had first seen him. And he was driving on a busy street this second time, and I wasn't at his eye level at all. Yet he methodically pulled over and walked purposefully up to me. And then returned to his car. It makes no sense to me. My sister told me years later, when I recounted this to her, that she thinks he had something to do with our Dad. Something like an angel, for want of a better word, sent to cheer me up in the moment. I just don't know. I will never know. But 36 years later, it still haunts me.
Thanks for reading this. If anyone has had a similar experience or any insights, I would really appreciate it.