Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Great Party

Patrick is heading back to Nashville this morning after a successful recital and graduation party. The recital program went very well, but then the audience demanded an encore and Patrick made the critical error of not having anything prepared. But after an awkward pause he sat down at the $150,000, 9 foot grand piano and started to play an old jazz standard,"If I Had You", singing the lyrics with the help of his smart phone, and the entire atmosphere of the hall was transformed. Patrick's soft touch and unique flair was in sharp contrast to the highly technical, pounding style of his hired accompanist, and suddenly he had the whole room in the palm of his hand. Unfortunately, Patrick doesn't have a repertoire of such songs readily available for performance. If he had, we all would have set there, mesmerized for another hour. Great stuff.

Then everyone came over to the house for the party that Pam had planned. There was a Chick-fila party platter of nuggets and scores of homemade pies and desserts. Soon the place was filled with family and friends eating and laughing and enjoying the occasion. There's a sound that fills the place when friends are gathered to celebrate. It's a unique sort of hum, much like music, that communicates something profound. It's the sound of comfort, the sound of life well-lived. In between serving coffee, and picking up half-empty paper cups, I would hear familiar laughs from other rooms and think of how many years now I have heard those voices. These are the sounds that life long friends make, sounds that are irreplaceable.

My parents were there. It's a labor for them to be a part of a night like this one anymore. It takes Bill and Linda to pick them up, accommodations to be made for their seating and care, but there they were on the front row soaking everything in. What thoughts must go through their heads watching their Grandson, in a tuxedo singing songs in French and German? What a life to have lived that has taken them from the tobacco farms of Buckingham county to a house filled with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, in the most uppity suburb of the state capital? I can't imagine what they must think of it all, but I suspect it's something between pride and astonishment, with a little exhaustion thrown in for good measure.

For the next week we will have Kaitlin home for spring break. Jon will be here with her. We will watch season two of Downton Abbey with them and Jessica and Katy. It will be great fun. Then spring break will be over and Kaitlin will head back to Wake, and Pam and I will resume our other life. That's the life that we live on the installment plan, two, three, four weeks without our kids. It's actually a great life. Just about the time I'm getting on Pam's last nerve, one of the kids comes home for a visit. Then, after a weekend of doing their laundry, cooking for them, and essentially waiting on them hand and foot, they leave, and we relax back into being with each other, astonished that we ever had the energy to be full-time parents. "Really?? We actually had two kids, full-time for twenty years??", we think as we collapse on the sofa.

We glance at the calender and notice that Easter is only four weeks away. Better buy Patch his plane ticket now before they get too expensive. We're already psyched.