While I worked at Universal, I had the opportunity to work premieres and attend the after parties of the upcoming films we had. Sweet gig, right?! There was one specific premiere that I remember the most and it was the premiere of Unbroken in Los Angeles on December 15, 2014.
I remember feeling off that night… I loved working events and being apart of what I was doing. I didn’t take it for granted but during this time in my life, I was struggling. I was questioning every aspect of what I was doing, who I was and honestly; I was questioning every ounce of humanity because of the things I was dealing with. Let alone constantly being around the superficial Hollywood scene did not help with this. But that night, I had the pleasure of meeting a cute World War II veteran who wore big glasses, a blue collared shirt, khaki pants, a blue hat and the most adorable smile.
It was fairly early in the night as I was outside talking to a few friends at the after party when I saw all of the World War II veterans walking out of the building to head home. If you know me, I ADORE old people. I can’t even look at this elderly living home in Woodland Hills when I drive past it because every time I do, there is an old person sitting in a wheelchair at a specific window looking out… It makes me want to cry!! Ugh. ANYWAYS, as soon as I saw these men I locked my eyes on them to make sure they were okay. I saw this cute little man struggling to hold a bunch of books that were handed out at the party while trying to hold his walker to get himself to the bus. Without thinking, I ran over to him offering to hold the books and to walk with him. With the biggest smile on his face, he looked at me and replied “A pretty girl like you wanting to walk with me? Oh yes! You may!” He then shouted to his friend, “Look, Frank! I still got it! Pretty girls still running after me! I’m taking her home!!” They bickered back and forth about me, cracked some jokes and made fun of each other… My face was hurting from how much I was smiling.
As we walked to the bus, he held my hand and we chatted about his family, World War II, his friendship with Louis Zamperini, Wings over Wendy’s, and a few things about my life. We were one of the last to get to the bus but when we finally did, he kissed my hand, locked eyes with me and said, “You have a sweet heart. I wish you nothing but the best because you deserve that.” With my heart pounding and my face smiling, I gave that sweet man a hug and watched him get into the bus.
In that moment I realized I was never going to see that sweet man again. I walked away with my hands shaking, my throat in my chest, and tears in my eyes. On the verge of hyperventilating, I went behind a building into a corner and balled my eyes out. I prayed and cried out to God feeling so frustrated on why He would do that to me ESPECIALLY when He already knew I was struggling… Somehow I pulled myself together, went back to the party to grab my stuff and headed to my parent’s house. When I got home, my mom and I cried in the kitchen as I told her the story. “Mom, I didn’t even get his name!!! I’m never going to see him again! I don’t understand any of this!” I said to my mom. My mom replied “I know things don’t make sense right now and I know you are questioning yourself but God has placed you in these settings because it is exactly where He needs you to be. Whether it is for you or for someone else, there is a purpose in that and you have to trust it.” My mom has a special way of knowing exactly what to say when I need it the most… Which makes me ball my eyes out even more.
The second I got into work the next day, I frantically emailed a few people and called a few more… I was determined to figure out this man’s name and I finally got my answer. I was told his name is Albert but that they call him Al for short. They also told me the elderly living home he was staying in. Super stalker-ish of me, I KNOW… But I don’t care. I needed to know.
I still don’t know the purpose of why I met Sweet Albert. Maybe it was God softening my heart in a cruel world I was seeing… Maybe it was to remind me that genuine sweet people still exist… I think back on this memory from time to time. I thought a lot about it more than usual on my flight home from Costa Rica last night. I wonder what he’s doing… If he’s alive, healthy, and happy… And if not, I wonder if I’ll meet him again some day. I try not to cry when I think about him but I fail miserably every time. I only spent a very short time with him but I bet Sweet Albert and I would have been great friends.
XO to you, Sweet Albert.