Sunday, September 3, 2017

"One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are." Edith Wharton

I was in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, on a Friday night, alone, and in need of some dinner.  A Ruth's Chris Steakhouse was within a few blocks of my hotel, and it was an easy walk. The only problem was this:  I have not been to a Ruth's Chris since my husband died, because Ruth's Chris any town, USA,  were our favorite restaurants, wherever we traveled. Sometimes, doing things alone that were always done as a couple can be very difficult.

I decided to make a reservation for one - a sad thing to do, I know.  I said I would eat at the bar, which offered full service, just like table service.  I steeled myself, tried not to be sad, walked the few blocks in the dazzling sunlight, and entered the restaurant.  

I sat at the bar and ordered a wine.  It was early - only a little after 5:00 - and just one other person sat at the bar about 6 seats away from me.  I swiped my phone and went to pictures, and our wedding picture popped up on the screen, even though I did not choose that picture.  Just then, a Frank Sinatra song came on in the restaurant.  Scott and I actually had the opportunity to spend time with Frank years ago in Las Vegas, so I was really feeling astonished that both the picture and then Sinatra were happening simultaneously.  A few seconds later, a waiter appeared at the side of the bar near me and asked the bartender for a Manhattan - which was Scott's favorite cocktail at Ruth's Chris.  I could not believe my ears!  I turned to the waiter and asked, "Did you just order a Manhattan?"  "I did," he said.  I then explained to all the waiters, who were now gathering near me, and the bartender about my choice to return to Ruth's Chris alone, how Scott and I  knew Frank Sinatra, and Scott's favorite drink, the Manhattan, all in a row, which I felt were giving me a sign that Scott was still with me.  One waiter became teary eyed, truly sharing my emotional experience, because he had recently lost his sister (unexpectedly), and he could sometimes feel her presence in the things that were happening around him. We discussed how grief sneaks up just like PTSD, and you never know when it will strike.  The waitstaff stopped by throughout my meal, kept me company, and asked to see pictures of Scott, and about our lives together and about the Frank Sinatra story.  What I thought was going to be a lonely dinner turned out to be a beautiful connection of many souls.

After dessert, I placed my charge card in front of me, and asked the bartender, a sweet gal named Andrea, for my bill. She said, "Dede, I think your universe is aligned, because the man at the end of the bar paid your entire tab.  He heard your story and wanted to do this for you." I am not embarrassed to tell that I cried when I heard this, and so did the waitstaff who surrounded me when Andrea shared that news. Sometimes, the kindness of strangers can be so overwhelming.  

I asked Andrea if she knew his name, and she did. The kind stranger is named Paul Rodriguez, and he is a local resident.  I looked in the white pages, but there were no matches.  Maybe someone who knows Paul will read this and tell him how much his kind gesture meant to me.

I have spent my lifetime trying to be kind to others and to treat others with respect. I have never been the recipient of such a kind gesture, one that was so needed at the time, and one that lifted me so much.  Thank you, Paul Rodriguez, for assuaging my pain and my loss with your caring.  Thank you for making me feel less alone.  Thank you for seeing my pain and attempting to soothe it.  I will carry your kindness in my heart and pay it forward. 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

My sweetheart Scott with me in happier times at our cabin in Potter County, PA

UPDATE: I heard from the generous man who bought me dinner! He is paul Gonzales, and he appreciated the blogpost!

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

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