Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Never Ending Story

At the risk of popping my AC joint attempting to pat myself on the back, in my life experience I have encountered scant few other humans who I cannot and do not outwork on a regular basis. It is in the genes I reckon. Dad made little to no attempt to take care of himself yet he worked in a fashion akin to a whirling dervish. He could not run from here to the end of this sentence and yet he worked practically everyone he knew into a pile of ash around him. Me? I figured that I could add some longevity to the model if I at least acted as if I gave a rat's ass about taking care of myself. So far, so good. Then again, considering that I am now merely the age Dad was when I was born, it may be too soon to know for sure.

Among the other members of the human population who actually can make me feel like a slacker in terms of work is my brother-in-law Joe. I must confess that I bring to the debate a very pro-Joe bias. I have known him for what seems like forever. He and Jill have been married twenty-three years (and as her little brother I can throw in the obligatory "I'm sure it seems longer than that" crack). I have known him since the two of them started dating, which was way back when in high school. All three of us are CU-Boulder graduates. While I have only over the years met his two sisters on a couple of occasions, I have had the pleasure of seeing his parents on an infrequent but regular basis throughout the time I have known Joe. Whoever coined the phrase about apples landing on ground in close proximity to the tree from whence they came did so after meeting them. Of that, I am confident.

The entirety of the time that I have known my brother-in-law he has been immersed shoulder deep in "the family business", which for the past ninety-one years for the Christen family has been Lahiere's Restaurant in Princeton. To call Lahiere's an institution would be to engage in understatement. In a town steeped in tradition, Lahiere's has been a fixture for close to a century. While it is historic, it is not dated. Rather it has been a testament to the manner in which this particular family tends to its business that it has successfully kept one eye on its history to recall readily the steps it has taken to get where it is while keeping the other on the road ahead to always pay attention to where it wants and needs to go. Not easy to do. Yet something that Joe has faithfully and tirelessly done for years.

Today marks the end of an era in Princeton, in the restaurant business and in the Christen family. Last month, Joe sold the building that has housed his business for all these years and on this very night, the restaurant that has given him life while extracting its inevitable toll in return will be open for business one final time. There are few people I know - and I daresay that I will ever know - who have earned the right to sleep through their alarm tomorrow more than my brother-in-law Joe. I hope he does. I hope he takes the "vacation" he mentioned here. Methinks I will flip him a copy of our Alma mater's home football schedule for 2011 on the off chance that we can get paroled on the same weekend. Perhaps we can go West to Boulder to watch the Buffs (and whoever their new coach shall be) play? Hmmm......

A toast to Joe, to Jill and to their family on what is most assuredly a day of swirling and conflicting emotions. A toast to all that you have done and all that you shall yet do. If history is any guide, then while the destination is presently a mystery here is to wishing that the journey is a success. The road never ends. It is merely the view out of the car window that changes.


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