This year, I spent New Year’s Eve at my friend’s bar – a music club in the city. It’s a comfortable place to hang out with friendly bartenders, a great micro-brew selection, quality food and live music almost every night of the week.
Tom and his buddies, during their boys nights out, always ended their evenings at this Irish pub with roots that go back to the late 1800s.
This year, some of my friends were going to sporting events or dinner but said they would drop by before the midnight toast. They arrived about 11, and the tone of the place, which attracts a young crowd, was astir. Patrons began ordering fresh beers and shots — Jamison’s, Jack, Fireballs, tequila.
Right before midnight, my friend George, who was my husband’s closest friend, and his wife told me they wanted me to come over to the look at the bar top. (This was not totally a surprise because I saw George earlier in the week and he told me he had something to show me next time we were at the bar.)
The bar top at this place is interesting. Roughly eight years ago, the owner decided he wanted to layer the bar top with a variety of guitar picks. Many of them had sayings or initials or designs done by friends and customers. Some picks had professional logos; others were blank but colorful. After gathering the picks, he had his friends (Tom included) glue them randomly to the top of the bar. A layer a shellac was applied over them to give the top a waterproof but artful, music-oriented surface.
I vaguely remember hearing about this effort because the owner was upset that the shellac smeared what was written on many of the picks. But, irregardless, I think it was a great idea, and it still looks quite good.
Back to New Year’s Eve. As I walked over to the couple with their phone flashlights illuminating the bar top, I was told to look carefully. There among dozens of colorful picks was a pearl-colored one. In black handwriting I know so well read “Tom loves Marti.” Midnight struck and my friends gave me a hug.
I got a little teary but not overly emotional. A couple years ago seeing this would have made me sad and, no doubt, set off a swell of tears. That night, it made me feel good and reminded me that someone loved me a lot for many years. I’ve sat at that bar probably a dozen times since Tom’s death, never knowing there was a personal, little missive to me. Thanks, Tom, for the reminder. And thanks my friends for waiting to show me. It was a good way to start the new year.