One of the special things about my trips to Canada each year are the traditions formed with family and friends. Traditions which grow in importance from year to year.
One such tradition is the celebration of my parents' wedding anniversary. Each year, Gayle, Paul and I celebrate this happy event with my mother, at a special restaurant mother and father once shared. Father is always there, in spirit. He would never miss his wedding anniversary. And the celebration is also a sense of coming home. For Gayle, Paul and I were childhood friends and our home was a second home to them. And it is still a home we all can come back to.
We grew up in a Scarborough suburb, which seemed so safe and polished at the time. It wasn't long after a war that we never knew. At times, we looked like we had stepped right out of an episode of Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best. Of course, nothing is as idyllic as it seems, but looking back - those were happy times.
But for Gayle this ended too quickly. When she was in the sixth grade, her family moved out West because of her father's work. And this wasn't the last time they would be uprooted because of his work. It may have ended there, a friendship which had hardly begun, if it weren't for Mr. Herrington: Gayle's father.
And Gayle and I exchanged letters, sharing our thoughts and lives from afar, until Gayle moved back to the Toronto area with her family. And it was then that the stage was set for my two best friends and I to become The Three Musketeers.
For some things cannot have labels. We can only experience them and know that they are real.
And each year, I look forward to meeting Mr. Herrington again, at another one of our small traditions: the Lloyd / Herrington brunch at The Blue Sea in Whitby on the last Sunday before Christmas. But this year I will not see Mr. Herrington at the Blue Sea. For he has passed on and left us behind. But we won't cancel this tradition. For I am sure he will be there, the first one in. Opening the door for the others to pass through. We will sit around the table and hear his voice. And know that all is good in the world, if even for a moment.