Mac-Donald’s: Remembering Grandpa Nix

My wife’s grandpa, Bill Nix passed away late Sunday. While talking with Stacey and making travel arrangements I thought of a post I had written a few years back about him.


My grandfather-in-law, Bill is 85 years old. He’s in pretty good shape and enjoys giving himself chores to do around the house.

Every morning he wakes up at five and reads the newspaper; at seven he heads to “Mac” Donald’s (as he affectionately calls it) just down the street from his home for coffee.
When coffee is complete it’s time to accomplish his daily task. Tasks range from planting tomatoes, to going on “treasure hunts” at local yard sales in the area. He’s always eager to tell you about his latest gem.

Afternoons are reserved for naps, a homemade lunch, and a quick scan of the History Channel. Then it’s back out to complete what he’s started.

During our visit I was shocked to see him on a ladder cleaning out gunk from his gutter as he whistled away like a blue bird. As the sun sets Bill makes dinner for one and relaxes in his easy chair.

He told me that he can’t remember the last time he wasn’t in bed by eight and that was true for the five nights we spent with him as well. In the morning he repeats his routine from the previous day.

Paper, “Mac” Donald’s, daily self-imposed task, lunch, task, dinner, easy chair, and bed.

Tomorrow, repeat.

One morning I joined Bill for his morning coffee at “Mac” Donald’s. It was fun to sit with him and experience life the way he lives it. As we walked through the doors of my daughters favorite restaurant he was greeted by two employees, “Good morning Bill.”

He ordered his usual; a senior-priced coffee and Sausage McMuffin with Egg. He bought my coffee and we sat down across from a man named Mike who was the first one from the coffee crowd to arrive. Mike was seated in his senior scooter and was slowly sipping from his super-sized cup. Mike was a master of one-liners and shared briefly his story and background with me as we talked about current events.

Next to wander in was Carlene. She was the youngest of the group. She wasn’t even retired yet; she just enjoyed visiting with the group before work. She was fun and brought a youthful energy to the quieter laid-back group.

Benny was next through the door. He appeared to be in his 70’s and came in wearing his trucking hat and Velcro shoes. He talked about the a recent NASCAR race and joined Mike by trading one-liners with the group.

The final member to join the group was what seemed to be the matriarch. As she entered she gently hugged each member of the group in what looked like a daily greeting technique. Without knowing who I was or why I was there I too received
a sincere hug and good morning from the white haired woman. Bonnie was clearly the most up to date when it came to fashion and technology as she shared about emails and text messages she was trading with her granddaughters.

The “Mac” Donald’s community coffee group was assembled with people who without the benefit of inexpensive coffee and the human need to belong would otherwise rarely cross paths. What do a retired produce manager (Bill), war veteran (Mike), 40-ish year old (Carlene), NASCAR fan (Benny), and the white-haired fashionista (Bonnie) have in common?

Nothing really. Except for the need to connect. That’s where McDonald’s enters the picture. Like their food or not, McDonald’s provides a vehicle for this mish-mash group to experience community.


I am thankful I got to know Grandpa Bill. I’m glad my kids did too. He will be missed. 




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