I didn't hear what happened.
I just saw the reaction.
I wouldn't have seen the resemblance at first. He was a teen, maybe 16, maybe 17, impossibly thin. He was attempting to grow some facial hair but was only sporadically, and unfortunately, successful. She was old enough to be his mother, convenient as she was, and where he was tall, she was not, where he was was made of straight lines she was made of curves. It was only later, when we were having a cup of tea and they were having a bite of lunch at a table just down from us, that their relationship was evident in how they smiled.
We were just coming around the corner as the noise burst out. The young man, flustered and furious, as taking off on someone who had said something to his mother. She, too, looked flustered but also embarrassed by her son's anger. She kept leaping in to his monologue directed at a shocked passerby, asking him to calm down. "I will not," he said, "I know how that kind of thing hurts you."
All I could get out of what he said to the woman, mortified by his abrupt speech and clear anger, was that she had either done something or said something that in his mind diminished his mother. "This woman RAISED me and my sister!!" he raged. "Don't treat her as if she is something less than you. Just because she uses a wheelchair doesn't make it OK for you to ..."
At this point the woman put out her hand in a motion meant to say, "I'm sorry."
"You damn well better apologise to her. She's a damn sight harder worker and stronger person than most in here."
It was over by the time we were passing them. I heard him say, "I just don't know how you put up with it all the time. Jeesuz ... I'm glad it's you in that wheelchair cause if it was me, I'd be in jail after a couple of weeks." She laughed. The tension eased.
Over lunch they looked very much like mother and son. But they looked like more than that. They looked like really, really, really good friends.