OK, at the end of this sentence, I’m gonna ask you to close your eyes and think of five things having to do with the number 100.
Eyes closed? No, I didn’t think so. Com’on now. Work with me. Slap ’em shut and consider something having to do with 100.
What’d you come up with?
$100? 100 years old? 100 bottles of beer on the wall? An “A+” on a test? Hey, maybe even the Hundred Years’ War?
Unless the headline to this story gave it away, I’ll bet you a hundred bucks here’s what you didn’t come up with – the number of Monday lunches that 24-year-old grandson Rick Hutton and his 77-year-old grandmother Nancy Elliott have shared since they began the tradition in August, 2012, at Panera Bread in the Shoppes at Woodhill Mall.
Yesterday, the Columbia pair sat down to lunch at DiPrato’s on Pickens Street to celebrate their centennial midday meal.
So maybe it wasn’t a so-called power lunch, but it was certainly a powerful one for a young man who began life 15 weeks sooner than he should have, weighing less than 2 pounds, and a grandmother who adores him because, in her words, “He is kind and gentle … and is always striving to enlarge his life.”
Hutton, who graduated from Glenforest School in West Columbia and the Clemson Life program at Clemson University, has some motor skill, reading and math disabilities. But that doesn’t keep him from his job as a stocker at Green’s Discount Beverages.
Or, having lunch with his grandmother on Mondays.
“We talk about how the USC baseball team is doing and about our friends and family,” Rick said.
“It is a time to get a chance to spend some time with (my grandmother) and have a new experience. My grandmother is special to me because she talks to me and lets me know interesting facts and she also pays for the lunches.”
“It was my daughter, Betsy’s suggestion to have lunch with Rick and then to make it a regular thing,” said Elliott, who is a retired Richland 2 English teacher and administrator.
“Then it became something we looked forward to … At some point I began to realize how much it had enhanced our relationship. Rick’s not a talker … I am. I tried to measure my gabbing – make it relevant to Rick – and challenge him with off-the-wall, provocative stuff. Ever the teacher, I tried to find learning opportunities. From Rockaways, we went to the old hangar out at Owens Field. From No Name Deli, we circled the Babcock property and I delivered a long lecture on that.”
Rick and his grandmother have lunched throughout the Columbia area – Five Points, the Vista, Forest Acres, and along Devine Street.
“We tell our waitress/waiter that we are going to different lunch places,” Hutton said. “They are happy that we come to their restaurant and I get a picture taken with some of them.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Elliott said. “I have a few friends who plan to start the same with their grandchildren.”
So, at the end of this sentence, I’m going to ask you to think of five things having to do with the number 101.
What’d you come up with? 101 dalmations? Maybe.
Rick and Mrs. Elliott’s next Monday lunch? Sure hope so.
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