I’m an open-spaces sort of person. I need to have lots of room to stretch my elbows; raise some animals, grow some garden, see the stars, hear the night-frogs. I like to not hear the noise of vehicles and sirens very often. But last night… oh last night! I had one of the best evenings of my life. In the city of Columbus.
This month of July and its travels are dedicated to visiting family and friends. The scheduling of events and locations promises to put many miles on the old van. And, try as we might, we won’t be able to do full justice to all the relationships that sustain us in all these places. We pray that we might be as much blessing to others as they are to us; but last night is one of those things that cannot be repaid.
Outdoors, under a cloud-swept sky, with winds gusting and calming, we feasted. My son’s wife had asked about a month ago what days we were going to be in Ohio. A reasonable inquiry so as to coordinate schedules. About 10 days ago my son wondered if my wife and I would be free on Saturday evening: they had “something special” for us that night. I was fine with that, as long as some provision could be made for looking after the younger offspring. Son and wife had already arranged that… Nothing left for us to do but ride along.
I suspected the evening had something to do with a park when we stopped by their apartment to pick up what were obviously picnic-supply bags, some of which were surreptitiously filled with things from the refrigerator when I wasn’t looking. My suspicions were confirmed when we slowed to enter the parking garage across the street from The Commons in downtown Columbus where a concert stage was standing in readiness. My son produced tickets from his pocket at the entry gate. I began to wonder why we hadn’t brought lawn chairs or even a blanket on which to sit. I liked the idea of an outdoor concert but didn’t relish the thought of sitting on damp ground for the next several hours. But we walked… right on past the open-grass area where folks were beginning to place their blankets and chairs and coolers. Right up to the fenced & gated area with cloth-covered tables, where the tickets were again examined and special wrist bands were provided. And we walked in and took our seats at the assigned table, right in front of the stage.
I am thankful: For clouds that withheld their rain. And winds which gusted between tall buildings. For son and daughter-in-law. For joyous and gentle conversations. For my dear wife of thirty years. And a carousel with real wooden horses and open-block bearings. We feasted, and all our senses were delighted. We sensed the evening to be a most wonderful gift from our son and his wife; and a wonderful gift from God. Strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, blue corn chips, humus, pizza, Belgian craft beer, and Ohio-brewed mead. And ice-cream of the richest, smoothest varieties. We were quite full and comfortable by the time musicians took the stage. And thus it was that I received the best of this wonderful surprise, this “something special for you”.
Up front, second row of tables from the stage, under the perfectly mysterious skies, our hearts and faces smiled deeply in listening to and seeing the band Kansas in concert with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
I still can’t stop smilin’. My son, you’ve surprised me more than once in these years of being your father. This has topped them all, and my jaw is still tired from my mouth hanging open in absolute wonderment at what you two pulled off for us the evening of July 6, 2013. Thank you son and daughter-in-law; this one reached deep in ways you won’t know until you’ve doubled your age.