On Monday, I am going to Toronto to help celebrate the 80th birthday of a friend who has had far more impact on my life than I think he will ever know. He was my first "Mentor" - with a big M - who taught me more than anyone has, before or since then.
He was one of those people who, from the moment I first met him, had a profound affect on the rest of my life. Neither of us would ever know how resounding and everlasting it would be. But I think the truth of what the affect was - in hindsight - was he "found the me in me". He encouraged me to be the me I would become. And in truth, he didn't really get to see the "me" that resulted. He may not know the artist, teacher, grandma, fulfilled person I have become, but I am sure he would be proud.
He was my advertising-writer mentor. He was the 'wind beneath my wings' who made me believe I had a talent and ability. Without him, I might never have quite believed in myself. But with him, I was a force to be reckoned with. And there was no turning back. I absorbed his energy, his ability to be a mediator, a leader, a mentor - and I unconsciously modelled myself after all those amazing things he taught me.
When I first met him, I was approaching "30". I spent the very best of my working years with him - soaking up his ability to see things and be things that others might have missed. And he had a greater impact than he knew. Then I had babies. And I had to leave him and follow the path that lay ahead.
He only ever met my daughter, on my maternity leave, when she was wee. He never met my son. He doesn't really know how amazing they are. But because he raised amazing kids - and grand kids, I suspect he does know. And on Monday, I hope we get to catch up - even if for just a bit. There will be lots of people there like me - who he has mentored - who will be vying for his attention, so I am not sure what will happen. But no matter what, his impact remains the same.
Now I am "65" and he is "80". All just numbers, but cumulatively, a lot of years. Big numbers. And a big relationship. Though many years and our individual lives have intervened, he has never really been out of mind, since so many of my written things - articles, blog posts, mostly everything I write - bring me back to the office we shared, while I was honing my skills. With him listening - and looking - on.
And, dear readers, there is a hooking part to this story too. So if you have hung in this long, you will get to see what that is.
At Monday's celebration, we were asked to bring a red rose with us to the celebration. Gary loves them. And we will bring one. But I decided to hook a rose for him. To share a passion of mine he doesn't know about, and to give him something that will last long after the celebration.
The very best hooked rose that I have ever seen is this one - Gail Becker's "Eye of a Rose". I decided that I wanted to adapt Gail's design and include it in a 4x6 card to the birthday boy. And when I asked Gail if she would be ok with that, she was more than gracious in her response to do so.
Here is my adaptation of her beautiful rose. Mine is not only smaller, but darker - a totally different palette - not because it needed to be darker, but because this was what was in my stash.
Now it is nestled in a 4 x 6 card with a personal greeting. It has a label on the back. It has a photo of Gail's rug on the front of the card. It has a tribute to her genius on the inside flap. And then it has my loops, inspired by her, inspired by him - resulting in a personal gift that I am giving to him.
Thank you Gary for everything you have given me. Thank you Gail for letting me share the rose.
A moment in time - a lifetime in time - well celebrated.