Doorstops and Divot Mix
Here’s the scene: Four couples are sitting around a dinner table, just after sunset. It’s a gorgeous evening here at Lake Wildwood. The geese are quiet. No mosquitoes. The dinner was excellent, the wine even better. Ali (she’s my partner) and I are dinner guests of (not their real names) John and Mary, along with Don and Cassie, and Max and Joanne (not their real names, either). We’re friends, so we’re immersed in good feelings and a warm, friendly energy.
We’re all senior citizens (plus a bit) so naturally the conversation starts with health and medicine, then turns to a random flow of sports, politics, entertainment and “what book are you reading now?” Like that. It’s nice. Comfortable. Perfect.
Late in the evening, just after dessert, there’s a contented, comfortable pause in the conversation. Then we begin to talk about friends who are experiencing the worst of the aging process, and our hopes for them. Truth be told, we were also talking about our hopes for ourselves because many of the same difficulties may be waiting around the bend for us.
Don mentions his mother, who died recently at the age of 95, after a full life of high spirits and accomplishment. Don’s mom chose to be cremated, and Don has her ashes at home.
It all leads to the following conversation … my apologies for getting the words wrong, but I think the tone is right.
Don: “Y’know, Mom’s ashes are heavier than I expected.” (A bit off-the-wall, but that’s Don.)
John: “Didn’t your mom want you to spread her ashes over the lake? She loved the lake.”
Don: “Yeah, but we haven’t done it yet.”
Max: (Also known for off-the-wall.) “Your mom also loved golf … why not put her ashes into the divot mix at the golf course? Then every time we fix a divot, we add a little bit of her to the course. She would have loved it.”
Joanne: [Silently rolls her eyes, as she often does at Max’s view of the world.]
Me: “I’ve always wanted my ashes to serve a useful purpose, and to be a part of my daughters’ lives after I’m gone.” [Ali’s turn to roll her eyes. Cassie just smiles, accustomed to the weirdness of the men she knows.] “I thought it would be a good idea to make my ashes into concrete doorstops, and then I could be part of my girls’ lives forever.”
Then, good-natured insults from everyone, to the tune of, “That’s a truly stupid idea.”
After that, the conversation drifts to other things, and a little later, the evening ends pleasantly, with hugs all around.
Later that night, I thought back on our “ashes” conversation. Silly as it was, I was moved by it. I want to share it with you because I think it says good things about us, and about most of the people Ali and I know here at Lake Wildwood. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, over and above the beauty and amenities we have in our community, it’s experiences like our evening with friends that make life so special for us.
Here’s the thing: Our conversation wasn’t about cremation, or ashes, or even the dearly departed. That’s what we talked about, and much more, but it wasn’t about that. It was about connection. It was about sharing. It was about each of us becoming something beyond self, at least for the time we were together.
If they’re reading this, John, Max and Don are probably thinking of some smartass comments about my sentimentality … I’d bet on it. I’m not quite sure of the feminine view, but I know the ladies are warm and loving, each in her own way, just as the guys are, at heart, warm and loving, each in his “guy” way.
When we all get together again, we’ll have another version of a similar conversation, laced with humor, friendly insults and outlandish ideas. And again, it won’t be about the conversation; it’ll be about connection.
They say that a friend is someone who will do anything for you, but I think friendship is more than that. I think friendship is all about connection. I think it lives in the unconscious mind, and is made up of feelings, not facts; intuition, not analysis.
Someone becomes your friend, not because it makes sense, but because you feel good about each other. And it has to be mutual. There are no one-way friendships unless first there is deceit or delusion, and then, of course, it’s not really friendship.
Lake Wildwood’s first and foremost claim to our hearts is that it’s a fertile ground for friendships. The lake, the clubhouse, the golf course and all the other amenities and activities are great, but they’d be sterile without the human connections we enjoy.
It’s not about doorstops and divot mix. It’s about us.
Alex Alexander is a Lake Wildwood resident and author of “The Entrepreneur’s Edge: Entrepreneurial Thinking and the Mind/Business Connection.”
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