Elderly widow who was invited to eat with strangers: "I think it was a God thing"

Young men invite widow to sit with them

Last Updated Apr 26, 2019 7:40 PM EDT

For barbecue lovers, Brad's Bar-B-Que in Oxford, Alabama, is heaven on Earth. But 80-year-old Eleanor Baker said her visit here earlier this month was especially divine.

"I think it was a God thing. I think God sent me there," she said. 

Eleanor is a widow and lives with her dog. While she has a big family, they mostly live out of town, so she was alone the night she went to the restaurant. 

Security footage shows her entering, and at about that same time, three young men arrived.

"We were all sitting there talking," said Jamario Howard, who noticed Eleanor, describing her as "older woman, sitting by herself."

Jamario said hates seeing people eat alone. "And I seen that," he said.

When most of us see someone eating alone we feel that way, but our sympathy never solves anything. And Jamario really wanted to fix this, so he got up from his table and sat at hers.

"He just came up and he said, 'I saw you sitting over here alone.'  And he said, 'Do you mind having some company?''"

"And she said, 'Go right ahead,'" said Jamario. "And then I introduced myself and she introduced herself. And it's just kind of how it all got started."

They all ended up having dinner together.

"And it was really just a nice, pleasant evening," said Eleanor. 

What those 20-somethings did that night speaks volumes about their character. But they say it wasn't entirely altruistic – that they enjoyed her company as much as she enjoyed theirs.

"'Cause when we left there, that's all we talked about," said Tae Knight.   

"When you make that kind of connection with somebody, it's hard to let it go," said JaMychol Baker.   

"I already feel like we're her grandkids," said Jamario.

They have all vowed to make room for one another.

And certainly, if Eleanor's right that God played any role in this, it may be to remind us of the joy that awaits just outside the bubbles we live in.

"I used to say when I was younger, and I still say today, I want to change the world somehow," said Jamario. "And I don't know how. I'm not rich. I'm not famous. And I'm not very smart either, so I can't be president."

"But we can show the world it's alright to be kind," he said. "And then, before long, maybe the world will be a much better place."


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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.