Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blocks and Chips

It was slightly less than five years ago.  Saturday, May 22, 2010.  We were having what proved to be one of the final parties we would have at 57 Delaware Avenue.  The occasion was celebrating Suzanne's attaining of a Master's Degree (according to her cake it is specifically a M.S.C.F.-SLP) from Seton Hall University.  Rob flew East from Colorado for the occasion.  Not only was he there but much of the "John Jay Posse" was in attendance as well.  I might be mistaken, as the combined effects of age and bad life choices as a much younger man, occasionally wreak havoc on my memory, but I believe that it might have been our final "Guitars and Cigars" party.  I do remember that at some point before night's end either the weather, the police or perhaps both had chased us inside - to our garage - where Rob, Lou and Joe Byrnes (my usual partner in crime) played guitar and led everyone through a list of spirited sing-along songs.  

May 22, 2010.  At one point that afternoon/evening, Rob - who had settled comfortably into Fort Collins, Colorado after having spent his first year-plus out West living in Cheyenne, Wyoming - and who had demonstrated (even at that point) more courage in the first twenty-four-plus years of his life than I had in close to twice that amount of time - asked me a question.  His question was framed not in the present tense but rather in the past - to the point in time almost two decades earlier when I met and fell in love with Margaret and transformed, in a swoop that honors the description of "one fell", from a solo artist to one quarter of a four-piece ensemble and from a bachelor to a husband and father of two small children.  We discussed the fact that I had been twenty-four years old when Margaret and I got together and was slightly more than twenty-six years old when we married on June 19, 1993.  His question to me, essentially, was "How did you do it - how did you know at that age that you were ready for that kind of commitment?"  

It was a question, as I interpreted it, borne out of some entirely unnecessary and unfair to himself type of comparative analysis he was engaging in - something along the lines of "Here You Were at My Age" vs. "Here I Am Now".  I told him then the same thing that I have told him probably too many times to count and certainly more times than any one son should ever have to hear it, which was "Don't force the fit.  It'll come to you."   

April 1, 2015.  On this very day, that very man celebrates his twenty-ninth birthday.  In the less than five years since he and I had that conversation he met, fell in love with, became engaged to and (less than one year ago) married the great love of his life, Jess.  She is extraordinary for any number of reasons - not the least of which is that she is not shy about reminding him just how extraordinary he is to her.  Together they purchased a piece of land, upon which they constructed the house that serves as their family's home, a home that very well may hear the patter of the footsteps of baby-sized humans one day (who hopefully shall, even if they are not raised as University of Colorado Buffaloes fans, be amenable to making a trip annually with ol' Pop-Pop to Boulder to watch the Buffs play).   

April 1, 2015.  At twenty-nine years young, Rob excels doing what it is he does to earn a living.  He shares a life with the one person on this planet who proved capable of making Peace part of his day-to-day on an everyday basis.  Over the course of these past five years - although we have never spoken of it since - I have wondered (as I have marveled from 2/3 of the way across the continent at the man he has become) whether he thought either on the night I said it to him or at any time thereafter that I was simply bullshitting him when I answered his question in the manner I was.  I was not, of course, but given the incredibly vague - and seemingly unhelpful - nature of my answer, I could understand if that was what he believed.  

Candidly, I doubt that he ever gave it a moment's thought again once that evening ceded center stage to the day that followed after it.  After all, life is a forward-lived exercise.  Reflection is a luxury of age, which is why it is this old man - and not that young man - whose mind reflects on such things on this very special day.  

Happy Birthday Rob.  


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