Jilda and I were doing the last two songs of our set on Saturday night when two guys rumbled up outside on motorcycles. They dismounted. I thought they’d be heading to a bar down the street, but they walked in to Berkeley Bob’s Coffee House. What’s even more odd is that one of the riders was holding a guitar.
He gently placed the guitar by a table and stepped up to the barista to order a coffee for himself and his friend. After her ordered, he leaned against the counter and listened intently. Jilda launched into our closing song and I followed along, but I kept looking at the biker…then a flicker of recognition slide across my mind and the story fell into place.
The biker was my old friend Carl. We worked together at MaBell for several years before I became unjobbed. He’d put on a little weight, let his hair grow down to his shoulders and grown a beard, but there was not mistaking. He smiled when he saw I recognized him.
Carl and I were close back then. We had breakfast together every morning and solved most of the world’s problems by 7:20 before hitting the data center floor running.
I thought of those good times as we hit the chorus of our final song which gave it even more of a lift.
When we finished, we thanked the crowd for coming out to hear us. I turned and secured my guitar in the stand, and stepped to the edge of the stage to hug my friend.
A lot of fond memories washed my mind as we stood there taking stock of each other. But all those good memories were overshadowed by the memory of the last time I’d seen him three years ago.
It was at a funeral home, and he’d just lost his only child Adam who died tragically in an automobile accident at the age of 24.
It’s in my nature to try and find words of comfort, but I had no point of reference and so Jilda and I just stood with him in silence…he naturally booming voice was not much more than a whisper. There are few times in my life I’ve seen that much pain.
I’d known Adam since he was in grade school. When he was about 12, he wanted to learn to play guitar. Carl bought him a guitar, and brought him to the data center and I stayed after work to teach Adams the basic chords and how the changes fit together.
He was a sponge, soaking up everything I taught him and soon he was playing the songs of his generation. Hearing him play made both Carl and me happy.
On Saturday night, he stuck around and we talked. He pitched in and helped us load all the sound equipment. When we finished, he stepped to the table, picked up Adam’s guitar and brought it to me.
“I want you to have this. You can keep it, or give it to another kid who wants to learn to play,” he said. It was too painful for him even open the case, and he felt that giving the guitar to me completed the circle.
We hugged again as we parted ways and promised to not let too much time slip by before getting together for dinner.
I’m still not sure what I will do with Adam’s guitar, but you can bet it will be something that honors his momory.