Private Display of Affection

I don’t know why it moved me so much, but it did.
This morning I was walking up Broadway, a few blocks from my apartment, and I saw a youngish (28?) Asian guy standing on the sidewalk opposite two much shorter people who I’m guessing were his mom and dad. I could see their faces but I could not see his. All of them were dressed casually — the parents in simple pants and short-sleeve shirts, the son in long shorts and a T-shirt. A taxi was waiting by the curb, the door behind the driver wide open. No one was speaking.
It wasn’t the kind of silence that is borne of anger or disapproval. It was the kind that speaks more than words could possibly say. The mom’s face — the eyes and nose pink from sniffling back tears, the downturned mouth struggling to right iself — was beautiful in its unabashed, simple display of love for her son. The dad’s head was slightly bowed, and his face, much more stoic than the mom’s, was nevertheless just as telling. His unblinking gaze, focused on his son, contained the tears that I knew would spill down his cheeks had he dared to shut his eyes for even a split second. I could not see the son’s face.
I approached them, transfixed, all the while pretending to look around at everything else except them. When I was just a few feet away, the son bent down to collect his parents in a three-way hug. It was perhaps the most private public moment I’ve ever witnessed.
Even though I felt like an intruder, I couldn’t help but glance over at them. The mother’s eye caught mine for the briefest of moments, so I gave her a tiny smile to let her know I “understood” — and I did understand, somehow, even though I didn’t know what exactly it was that I was understanding. She closed her eyes.
Once I passed, I was compelled to watch them, so I did what any idiot would do when she doesn’t want to seem like an eavesdropper or voyeur: I took out my cell phone, pretended to punch in a few numbers (like a character on a TV show, blindly pushing random buttons), and turned my body away from them just enough to give them “privacy”.
They broke out of their little huddle, the son stood up to his full height, and the parents moved ever so slightly toward the taxi. The mom, trying to smile, entered first. The dad followed slowly. They both looked out the open door at their son, bent down to look in at them.
He rose, gently shut the door, and then stepped back from the curb. He rose to his full height as the taxi slowly and silently pulled away. He raised his right arm and hand to wave.
Through the rear window, I could see his mother’s face turning back to look at her son. Her eyes were losing their battle to stay tear-free. She reached her hand toward the glass and slowly waved … waved … and was still waving as the car disappeared from view.
The son bowed his head slightly, wiped his nose, his eyes, and stood on the sidewalk, alone. Except for the strange girl with the cell phone, who stood maybe 25 feet away, sniffling back her own tears.