We specifically requested that no gift-giving was warranted as the presence of each guest was enough of a present in itself. The suggestion was ignored by several of those attending.
Toward the end of the party, Joclyn Wallace, one of our guests, handed me a present and asked me to unwrap it. Before I continue, let me say that Joclyn and I share an unusual relationship. She and my daughter attended Purdue University together and that is how I met her. Over the years, we have gown close. I often introduce her as my "fake daughter" or my "half daughter". She always sends me a card for Father's Day. We talk to every week. She is a truly delightful, young woman, who has been very concerned about my health.
Allow me to digress. When I got out of the hospital following my aborted liver resection, I was shot to pieces. I could barely move, let alone walk. My physical therapy involved going for a walk each day, trying to go a little farther each day than the day before. It was slow going and very painful.
One afternoon as I was walking, I was literally stopped in my tracks by the fragrance of a blooming lilac bush. I cannot adequately describe the smell other than to say it seemed otherworldly. I was completely entranced by the beauty of the smell. As I stood there I realized for the first time since becoming sick that I was not going to smell a lilac bush again. This epiphany made it smell that much better. As I continued my walk, I was saddened, not at the prospect of dying, but because I would not again get a chance to smell a blooming lilac bush on a sunny spring day.
A few weeks later, I was out for a walk with Joclyn, who had come to visit. I told her about my encounter with the lilac bush. I told her that I had never really smelled a lilac bush before and that it had moved me as one of the most beautiful fragrances I had ever experienced. I told her that it saddened me to think that it was probably the last time I would get the chance to enjoy such a simple pleasure.
Joclyn responded by saying that none of us know what is coming down the road and that maybe I might get another chance at a lilac bush in bloom. I told her that realistically all of the doctors said that my number was up and I needed to get used to that idea. We continued our walk.
So, to everyone's surprise, mine and the doctors', I made it to my second birthday following the diagnosis and operation. Knock me over with a feather!
Now, back to Joclyn and the party. I opened the present and what do you suppose it was?
A small candle…scented with lilacs, of course. Thanks, Joclyn. You chose well.
Thanks to all of you who came to the party. Maybe I will make a third one. I doubt it, as the odds are against me. But they were against me on the first and second birthdays, too. Like Joclyn says, "You never know".