Several years ago, I read somewhere that 'no soul enters your life without reason - it's up to you to embrace and appreciate their energy - good or bad, pure or not - and learn from it'. 
Who could not love this face? 

His name was Nick and he was a good soul. All five-feet two-inches of him.

We met when I was in my early twenties. A single nurse, working deep nights in an inner city emergency room. Still relatively new to Dallas and without any family or "solid" friendships, a lot of the 'souls' I came across had been stabbed, beaten or shot. They included nasty drunks, drug addicts, gangsters, violent offenders, prostitutes and the like.

Nick ran the cash register at Little Gus' a local diner and he was like a breath of fresh air...
Little Gus' procedure was simple... approach the order counter, place your order, take a seat and wait.

The beauty of this place was in the fact that instead of giving you a 'number' when you placed your order, they would ask for your name. When your order was 'up', Nick would bellow out your name from the cash register at which time you were expected to get up and retrieve your order.

The procedure made for instant introductions and I soon had a new peer group.

My visits to Little Gus' were like coming home. Having breakfast with Johnny,  who owned the local Hobby shop or Dolores who ran a little antique store was great but it was Nick who I needed to see the most.

Me:    "What time do you get to work Nick?"
Nick:  "Joanie, I open this place up at five o'clock every morning. Last week I saw an old woman walking around with a big bag, collecting cans. She told me that she didn't want people to see her collecting cans in the day time. She's too old and it's too dangerous for her to be out collecting cans in the dark. So now I get here at four-thirty and collect cans for her, she comes by to pick them up before we open at six - if you've got any cans, bring them to me OK?"

Me:    "What have you been up to, Nick?" I ask. 
Nick:  "Joanie, I was in a little car accident last week. No problem. Everything was OK but the lady was too upset. Ahhh, she just lived around the corner so I picked her up and carried her home."
Me: "You drove her home?"
Nick: "No Joanie, I picked her up and carried her in my arms - she wasn't so heavy."

On the surface, our conversations were not exactly profound but they validated my intrinsic belief that people are good and at that time in my life, I needed that confirmation more than he will ever know.

Today, sadly, I learned at that my friend, Nick died at the age of 87 years on May 3, 2008 in Little Rock, Arkansas...

"He is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Georgia Grivas Hronas, three sons, Harry N. Hronas and Peter N. Hronas of Dallas, and Dr. Theo N. Hronas of Little Rock; two daughters, Presvytera Maria Hronas Varvarelis and her husband, Rev. Fr. Michael Varvarelis, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Katherine J. Hronas, R.N., of  Dallas. Also survived by six grandchildren, Rev. Fr. Efstathios Varvarelis and Wife Presvytera Paraskevi, Dr Nicholas Varvarelis and Wife Bethany, Aggeliki Gentis and Husband Angelo, Georgia Fliakos and Husband Chrysovalante, Paraskevi Kotsatos and Husband John, Joanna Varvarelis, and four great-grandchildren, his brother, George Hronas, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Christianna, an infant brother, George I, his brother, Jimmy Hronas, and sister-in-law, Mary Artemas Hronas".

"Nick's family moved to Greece when he was two years old, and he grew up in Andritsaina, Olympias, Greece, returning to Arkansas at the age of 16, where he lived with cousins, Pete and Elizabeth Harris, in Malvern. He spent most of his life in the restaurant business in Pensacola, Little Rock, and Dallas. He took great pride in his relationships with his customers and maintained lifelong friendships with them."

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Anonymous said...

Hi Joany-
What a great tribute to my Dad. He talked about you all the time, but I'm sure you know that!! It's a shame we couldn't post an Obituary in Dallas but I tried. The computers were down at the Morning News and they couldn't take the info from Little Rock. And last year I was going to put something in the paper on the first anniversary but just plain forgot to do it in time. I know he had lots of friends in Dallas and I hope they know of his passing. And eventually I hope to put something in the paper for those who don't. Thanks for loving my Dad, he loved you too!!
kjkoukla(at )hotmail. com

Unknown said...

Joany, I worked with nick at little Gus from the time he came on board when I was twelve until it closed on 1991. Wonderful memories, I was sad to find out about his passing. John Zotos

joanyspot said...

Thank you, Katina. He was so proud of you and your brothers. I was fortunate enough to meet Theo during his internship in the ER many years ago.

joanyspot said...

John - I am too.