Well did you evah?
What a swell party that was.
I was a bit wired and tense all day without really knowing why, just wanting so much for the day to go right for him. He’d had some cards already and in the morning we opened them and a few of the presents. Envelopes are beyond Nick now but he can tear open wrapping paper like a child, just flinging the bits on the floor, gleefully revealing some new aftershave, some chocolates and some audio books. An early Bruce Springsteen CD that he had always loved but had got lost or borrowed and somehow never replaced. A set of sturdy handled “good grip” cutlery to help him eat more easily. Some hankies and – piece de resistance – a very beautiful chunky pipe because we are trying medicinal cannabis as a muscle relaxant.
I am not totally convinced about this – is it just another avenue for his addictions? - but Nick says he really feels the benefit (well he would, wouldn’t he! I think to myself) and naturally both our teenage sons are keen to back it up with extensive research they’ve done on the internet. I’m still not totally convinced but if it makes him happy…and unlike the wine, he probably won’t be able to operate it on his own and will need some assistance. “What, from your lot?” said a friend, laughing raucously.
We said we’d drive him out to the countryside to have lunch in a nice pub, but I had gone over a kerb on the way and the tracking had suddenly gone AWOL so with the steering swinging wildly around like a dinghy at sea, we didn’t dare. It would have to be the nearest place with a car park, ten minutes from his flat. Which just happened to be a pub both Nick and I had worked in about a thousand years ago. All through lunch I felt terrible that I’d messed up his treat, but actually he said it was fun to be somewhere with so many memories of his younger self and all his antics.
And the party…I could just not have asked for more. We’d invited four friends of mine who have got to know Nick and really taken to him, there were the three of us, and lots and lots of food and fizz. Fizz all round. One friend brought flowers, another one some bunting from Nepal, everyone brought cards and wine and then, though I hadn’t dared expect he would really come, a surprise guest of honour – one of Nick’s great friends from way, way back who had seen the Facebook post and got in touch. I hadn’t told Nick as I honestly didn’t think he would actually come but it was like one of those tear jerking TV reunion shows to see him walking in to the room and Nick’s dawning register that it was him, his old mucker.
So it was a great birthday. A swell party. And more to come, even if our car is off the road and we have to push him in that blinking war-horse of a wheelchair with bits falling off it.