When I’m scrolling through Facebook, among the photos that make me smile the most are those of my friend Dave and his adorable son George cheering on their favorite rugby teams, frolicking in exotic places like Italy and New Zealand, or just gobbling down ice cream together on a rare warm day in London. Dave is such a great dad, and I know it hasn’t been easy for him.
It has been nearly 5 years now since Annie, his beloved wife, best friend and mother of his son passed away. Since then, Dave has taken time to grieve, to look after himself, and to make sure he and George get plenty of quality time together. I only see Dave for a short time every few years when we are back in the UK for a visit, but the pictures on Facebook assure me that both he and George are still strong, loving and enjoying life together. A few months ago, they even adopted a new tabby cat, Pickle. I’m guessing George named him.
It’s not just because of the Facebook pictures that I know Dave is a great dad. It’s because I spent four years at college with him, and I learned then what a caring, loving, thoughtful man he is. He was my boyfriend’s best buddy, and he and his college girlfriend and I all spent a lot of time together. In my third year, when I came back from my term away in Japan, I suffered severe re-entry shock trying to fit back into college life. My time in Japan had been life-changing, but my boyfriend and other people close to me didn’t ask me much about my experiences. I felt isolated and was probably depressed, but I remember one day Dave asking me to tell him about Japan, and I talked non-stop, excited that someone wanted to hear about what I had been through. I think he sensed that I needed to talk, and his caring interest really helped. He was also incredibly supportive when my mother became sick a few months later. After graduation, when my college boyfriend and I broke up, I always felt lucky that I got to keep Dave!
One of the images of Dave I will always carry in my mind, and not on Facebook, is one of him after an Eddie Izzard show in London. I had moved back to London after two years in Japan, and Dave was still there for me as a friend. We had gone with a few other people and all laughed hard throughout much of Izzard’s performance, but when it came to his piece about Pavlov’s little known experiments with cats, Dave completely lost it. He still had tears rolling down his cheeks as we staggered out of our seats and towards the theater exit. I remember him having to lean on a pillar he was still laughing so hard. (Here’s a later version I found on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whwiMrBNWCA).
I know the gift I sent to Dave today is tiny and and a little silly but I thought it might make him smile. It’s a hemp coaster with a cute painting of a fat tabby cat on it. I bought it in Kyoto many years ago and kept it as a piece of art rather than a beer mat. Perhaps the cute image will remind him of Pickle, or of that hilarious Eddie Izzard skit, but hopefully it will also remind him how much his friendship and support meant to me at a critical moment in my life. I look forward to enjoying more pictures of Dave and George on Facebook for years to come, and maybe even a couple of them on their visit to Los Angeles?