Birthday Tribute

Need more candles.
Need more candles.

A good friend of mine was born many years ago today. He will probably be embarrassed at this post, but it needs to be said:  some people in our lives stand tall and make an impact. They need to be feted and celebrated and thanked.

As I texted him birthday felicitations this morning, all I could think was how glad I am to have a friend who gets me. Both of us are musicians and writers and Christians. We are married to wonderful spouses we met at the same college. We shared some classes together, which is where I really started to see the depth and humor in my friend.

I didn’t know B. that well then. We took a science class together before this, two music majors picking up the missing required classes.  I did not look forward to it.

I sat behind him the first day of that class.

“Susan, what’s with all the weasel posters?”B. queried, glancing around the room.

I looked around.  Sure enough, the chief decoration of the room were life-size, colored posters of the North American Weasel, the Great Barrier Reef Weasel and the Common Cardboard Box Weasel.  I started laughing.  What message did this send to future Christian leaders?  We still don’t know.

Fast forward to my junior year with this literature class, we were together again.  As we started discussing the symbolism of the poem, I felt a kinship arise between us. Someone else who cared!

My friend B. and I formed a small study group for Early American Lit.  Read:  two. Well, maybe there was another guy, but he never showed. Even then, we were both excited to read and discuss great literature. This particular time, we needed to dissect Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking”.

Since we attended a small Bible college, some areas were off-limits to the opposite sex. Also,  another gal -let’s call her Lola – invited herself to our group at the last minute, so we decided to meet in the lobby of the girls’ dorm where both Lola and I resided.

“I don’t quite get what Walt meant here…” Lola interrupted, pointing to a stanza.

B. and I looked at each other. Really? The conversation continued.

“But how did you get that?” Lola pumped us for information. She sucked up all our golden nuggets of understanding like an industrious bee gathering nectar.  Symbolism, a concept beyond her surfer-brain’s capabilities, flummoxed her.  I had a flash of déjà-vu.

I started holding back. I flashed back to high school again,  working on an assigned group project for government class. “Psst!  Susan’s in the group! We don’t have to do any work!” my classmates crowed, perching precariously on their tilted-back chairs. Years of this kind of treatment left me wary.

We quickly and by silent, mutual assent, decided we needed to drop Lola. No offense, Lola, but you gotta contribute something! We get that you don’t understand literature. Perhaps you should talk to the professor about it. We won’t be able to get you up to speed in a couple of weeks.

This is just a tiny sampling of why I appreciate B. He is one of the smartest people I know. He can smell fakey stuff a mile away, yet leaves his heart open for truth to show up in whatever way it can. He cares deeply for his family and friends and serves them well. He encourages me to be a better writer, a better mom and a better person. I find myself so grateful for his friendship and humor and kindness and constancy. I am so glad to know him.  Happy birthday!


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