Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's a wonderful life

Cheery yellow walls, fresh cut sunflowers in a vase, a sign of sorts hanging above the cabinets that read: It's a wonderful life. Indeed. Guests mingling, drinks tinkling, children jumping in the bounce house. Cool breeze, setting sun, torches. The start of a double celebration this weekend, one being of summer, food and friendships, another a birthday, a life, love.

Today we went to a surprise 75th birthday brunch for a dear friend. And he was surprised. Shane looked at me and said, "Did you notice how happy he looked when he saw you there?" I did. I've known David for about 15 years. Worked for him just after I graduated college. I met him at an artists' gathering at a studio downtown--and that's how I've always known him ... as an artist. He is so many things to many people. Our friendship has grown over the years. He considers me a daughter, and my children his grandchildren. He and his wife are quick to remember birthdays and pick up the most thoughtful gifts for my girls in their travels.

His two young grandsons treated guests to their talents: the eight year old sang a song to him, one he'd written himself called "You were there for me." And his older grandson, ten, played the clarinet. Other people spoke highly of David throughout the afternoon. A loved man. We joined in table tapping song about seventy-five being good, and with good health we hope to live to ninety-nine. David then spoke, musing about being done with things he wanted to accomplish and that he's feeling his age, but that his grandkids make him feel younger and show him there's still more to do. My eyes stung.

He spoiled me with quiet talk as he sat down next to me, my eyes brimming with tears.

"How long have you been married now?" he asked.

"Ten years," I said. "I've known you for about fifteen years."

He shook his head. "Is that all? I feel like I've known you forever." And me wishing I could turn back the clock.

"I don't have words to describe how I feel about you," he said. So tender and dear. When I count my blessings, I count David and his wife. For the pictures of my kids they proudly display on their fridge. For the love they pour out on us. For showing up to my family functions and watching dance recitals. He is like a father to me and a grandfather to my kids. A cherished friend.

"I wish you lived closer," he said. Promises to see each other more. Am I the only one to feel the desperation at fleeting time? Seventy-five wishing to see ninety-nine. Me, too.

It's a wonderful life.

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