It was his 75th birthday. His 75th birthday dinner date had cancelled on him three weeks ago. My great guy and I finally had one full day off together on his 75th birthday. We had an opportunity to go fishing on our one day off together on his 75th birthday.
“Is there a birthday boy in the house?” I asked, cake in hand, squinting as my eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight to the darkness of the local bar in which I’d never stepped foot.
He waved from one side of the bar, where he sat alone.
For the next two and a half hours, we sat, playing bar bingo and buying him drinks. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him. We cut the cake and served it to the handful of other patrons.
We’d go fishing together on another day.
I offered to work a double because I needed money. The second half of the double was a fundraiser for a local who needed help with medical bills.
“Buy a raffle ticket?”
“Have you signed up for anything in the silent auction?”
“How about a T-shirt for $10?”
I couldn’t mix a drink or pour a beer without one of the hundreds of people in attendance asking me for money. Every time they asked, I fretted about how much I could part with. I didn’t want to part with any of it because I wanted to make rent and my car payment next week, and pay the three overdue student loans I had ignored for 10 days.
“Here, this is for you,” he said as I handed him two drinks and he handed me two dollars.
“Thanks!” I said, folding the two bills and shoving them in my pocket instead of my tip jar at the other end of the bar, because five other people behind him needed drinks.
An hour later, as the fundraiser was winding down, I remembered the tip in my pocket. As I unfolded the bills, I noticed one was a $1 bill and the other was a $50. A gift or a mistake? Mine to keep or his to have back, if I could even find him again?
The fundraiser organizer approached the bar at that moment, asking for a glass of ice water.
“Here,” I said, giving her the $50. “For the cause.”
I think the money will ultimately get to the right person.
Recent, random days of seemingly mundane choices. On many such days, I am sure I ignore many opportunities to do right–not because I don’t want to, but because I feel that I simply cannot.
I’m hoping this past weekend allowed me to put some money back in my conscience account.