Gratitude

It is that season, after all. I will be heading to New York City tomorrow to spend the holiday with my father and family. It’s likely our last Thanksgiving with my dad. Our 93rd. My father has not been so great at holidays since we lost mom two years ago. And he’s been pretty clear he isn’t really looking forward to this one. I understand that. My siblings had the wonderful idea that we all might share a note of thanks with my dad at dinner. Notes for him to read later with the hope that he will be able to take in how much he has meant to all of us. Then we worried that this might all seem a little too final to him. In some ways, he hasn’t come to terms yet with his leaving us behind. So the idea morphed a bit. Instead, we will bring blank note cards to dinner where all of us can take a few minutes to share our thankfulness with each other, including my dad. I like the idea. Not sure my father will be so thrilled, but right now, all we can do is our best and allow him to do his.

On Saturday, I am heading down to Swarthmore, my old stomping ground, before I come back to Atlanta. Sunday morning, I will put on my soccer spikes and head over to the neighborhood soccer game which I helped organize maybe fifteen years ago. Back when I could still play a little or at least run with some pace. A whole bunch of the guys that I played with a decade and a half ago will be there. Gerhard, Santosh, Dan, and a dozen more. I’ll be in he good company of good men. Then, God willing, I will be healthy enough to join a dear friend Stuart for a late breakfast before the airport beckons.

I am so very thankful for the amazing men friends in my life. I think like most male friendships, so much goes unsaid and so much time passes now between visits. Gary was my college roommate in 1971, at the start of our college life. Forty years ago. Wow. He and his family live in Reno. I was able to see him a year ago on a trip out west. He drove east a couple hours and me west about the same and we met for the day in Davis, California. It is always like no time has passed and no room has grown between us.  I met Fred in law school in 1978. He and I were the only two people in our entire class not interested in becoming corporate lawyers. Plus he could cook a little and dinner at his house on Sunday night was my one healthy meal during the week. I saw Fred and his family this summer at his beautiful house in southern Vermont. He beat me at a crooked game of country horseshoes in his backyard. Again, when Fred and I are together, the decades blur and it’s like we were 25 again. Stuart and I worked together for 15 years. When I left Swarthmore seven years ago, I handed over my job to him. We were a terrific team for a long, long time, at work and beyond. We’ve camped together, hiked together, kayaked together… Thank goodness we don’t do any of that anymore.

These three men, two approaching 60 and one a little ways past that hurdle, share something in common besides being my best friends. They are and have always been gentlemen and gentle men. Far more so than me, for sure. Smart and wise. Amazing work ethic, all. Full of integity. And always gentle. I am thankful for their friendship all these years. I love each one of them.

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