I’m not a reflective person by nature, but Thanksgivings invariably cause me to ponder why I’ve been so very lucky throughout my life. I’m clearly not deserving of consistent good fortunes due to any of my efforts, so the “why” is a mystery escaping explanation.
Often I preface references involving “outside forces” with a proclamation of unbelief in them. Yet so much goes on to my benefit I’m beginning to feel two-faced and I most definitely don’t want to have to shave both of them every morning.
Thanksgiving challenges people to count their blessings, hence the name. Mine are so ridiculously numerous it’s truly sobering — even embarrassing — to contemplate.
Good grief my agnostic, analytical mind has no idea where “blessings” even come from and yet I’ve been bombarded with them all of my life. For lack of a better metaphor, I’ve been playing a perpetual Vegas poker tournament and have never held a losing hand. Past weird.
I don’t want my head to explode forcing huge possibilities into such a tiny space. So for the moment I’m be content to admit ignorance and humbly enjoy the ride.
One of recent benefits has been celebrating Thanksgivings at the beach. Tourists are gone, and this year even fishing is curtailed because the Emerald Isle Pier is being remodeled.
The parking area and walk-through accesses are roped off so we’re secluded within our little tin can near the surf. Most of my ghosts happen to live up and down Bogue Banks so when I’m there they don’t have to travel far to “visit.”
Ann and I will sit on the deck with a glass of wine. She’ll slip in a beach music CD, flip on the outside speaker and I’ll uncork memories and call the meeting to order.
I don’t want to give the impression of being someone prone to hallucinations, but I have vivid recall and imagination and have little problem drawing dear departed friends and acquaintances into view. Our deck is small but my ethereal crowd has no problem finding room.
Of course Kelton, Ronnie, Royce, Earl, Tommy, Beth, Bobby and Becky are the first to show up. Also people I got close to through their music gather like old friends although I don’t think I personally met any of them.
Of the bunch, I’m by far the luckiest. Jackie Wilson was taken by a stroke, Marvin Gaye shot by his father. Sam Cooke’s girlfriend shot him in a motel parking lot. Otis Redding went down in an airliner crash very close to a “dock on the bay.”
Percy Sledge died last year. We were lucky enough to have seen him at the Mad Boar not many years ago. Big Joe Turner is always welcome anytime — morning, noon or night. Billy Ward will show up in the purple dusk of twilight time.
Ann and I will sip wine, listen to the surf mixed with “our” music and chat about good times past and future. At the beach, memories and waves crashing blend to make any meal a feast.
Dinner could be Pepsi and Nabs and that would be fine. Hey, there’s an idea for next year!
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.