There is an obituary in the paper today that brings back fond memories. It is for my favorite bartender, Fred.
Just saying that makes me sound like a real lush, doesn’t it. But, in fact, I’m not much of a drinker at all. Let me explain how I ended up with a favorite bartender.
For the 15 or so years that Hubby and I were involved in local politics, we went to many political dinners, grand openings, fund-raising cocktail parties, etc. And one local caterer catered many of those events, including supplying the bartenders.
Early on, I found that one of the biggest “pains” of cocktail hour is walking around chatting with people while trying to balance a drink along with a plate of finger food. Think about it. If you have a drink in one hand and a plate of “finger food” in the other hand, where do you get the fingers to eat the finger food! And if you are carrying even a small evening bag it is just one more thing to juggle.
So, one time when I was standing at the bar ordering my version of a Shirley Temple, i.e., a glass of orange juice, as the bartender handed me my drink I was jockeying everything around and asked him if there was a cloak room where I could check my purse. He said there wasn’t, but if I would like, he would put my purse down behind the bar. Wonderful! I immediately took him up on that. What a nice man. We introduced ourselves and besides finding out that his name was Fred, I found out he and his family were from the same area of the county as us and he knew and/or was related to many of the same people we knew or were related to!
Anyway, that was the start of a sort of “tradition” that Fred and I established. If I walked up to a bar at a function and Fred was one of the bartenders (and he frequently was) after we greeted each other, he would automatically fix my Shirley Temple “screwdriver” and then take my purse to store behind the bar until I came to get it when Hubby and I were ready to leave.
I can’t remember ever having a long conversation with Fred, but it was nice to see his friendly face at a function (and I did find out over the years that he was still an active farmer and had also retired from the same truck manufacturer where I worked). And, of course, it was always kind of nice to be recognized by a bartender. It made me feel a little like Norm when he walked into Cheers!
So when I saw Fred’s obituary today, and his smiling face in the accompanying picture, it brought back fond memories of seeing that smile as he handed me my orange juice and took my purse for safekeeping.
One of life’s little blessings is the people who pass through our lives in brief ways, but who touch us with their kindness and a smile.
I am thankful for my memories of Fred and for all the other “Fred’s” in my life who just make life a little more pleasant. And I hope I am a “Fred” in some lives that I have briefly passed through.
When I go to a wake, I always like to tell the survivors some little memory I have of their loved one, and then remind them that as long as little memories like that live on in people who knew them, a little bit of that person is still here.
I’m sure a kind, friendly man like Fred was loved and remembered by many people, and as long as there are all those memories like mine, he isn’t totally gone.
Rest in peace, Fred.