By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, December 15, 2012

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I’m proud of my coffee shop bunch. We exchange a lot of kidding, and most of the time nobody gets upset. We have quite a range of opinions about most everything. Some of us have been accused of leaning toward the “redneck” orientation.

But on one subject, we’re in total agreement: We all love Addie.

Gerre Joiner

Addie is a 16-year-old young man born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome. He’s the son of a coffee sipper. His vocabulary is limited. One of his favorite words is “Whataburger.”

Most mornings, he wakes his dad with, “Whataburger.” He signs with his hands to communicate. When he’s ready to leave, he takes his two hands and moves them as though he were driving. That means, “I’m ready to leave … right now.”

If his dad doesn’t act on his request in a timely manner, he’s likely to dart out the door of the restaurant and head toward their pickup. He got all the way to the truck one day. To everyone’s relief, he got in the passenger side of the vehicle!

When Addie enters the room, he works the crowd. He stays with us already-friendly people for the most part, but sometimes ventures out to entertain a complete stranger.

Some of the men in our bunch are crusty old guys who don’t say much to anybody about anything. They’re just listening most of the time … until Addie gets there. Then, depending on where he’s sitting (sometimes by one of the crusty guys) they ask him questions and help him with his food. They’re interested in where he’s going that day, what he’ll be doing and how he’s feeling.

Somehow, Addie brings out the best in my group of friends. We are retired firefighters, elevator repairmen, coon dog trainers, preachers, singers, mule skinners, and semi-professional truck farmers.

I’ve never heard most of the men at our tables use the word “love.” That’s just part of being a crusty old guy, I guess. I’ve never heard Addie use the word “love” either. I’ve never even seen him sign the word “love.”

What happens when Addie comes to the coffee shop is love … without words. Thanks, Addie!

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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