I’m writing this on Thanksgiving day (yippee, I’m not cooking!) so I’m contemplating all that I’m thankful for — naturally, family and friends. But one person in particular comes to mind today: Marty (Mr. G), my friend Sharon’s dad.
Recently I was invited to Mr. G’s 85th birthday celebration held at Spinnaker restaurant in Sausalito. The party took place in a room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bay where boats sail toward the Golden Gate and kayakers paddle under the row of restaurants lining the waterfront. A perfect day for a celebration.
Sharon and her 4 siblings organized the party, complete with a delicious menu of pretty much everything one can consume at the Spinnaker (and then some). Delicious appetizers, fish, beef and chicken entrees, tons of side dishes, an open bar, live music and a gargantuan birthday cake — all for Mr. G and 100 revelers.
I don’t know about you but I’d be hard pressed to imagine 100 people coming to MY birthday, let alone my 85th. I think that says a whole lot about the man, don’t you?
Displayed at the entrance was a photo montage, a pictorial of life through the years in the Granados clan. Although I grew up on the same block as Sharon, I didn’t really know the family until she and I became roommates in our 20s. Hard to believe I’ve known them over 40 years.
Two things come to mind about Mr. G: he’s always smiling and never fails to give me a welcome hug and kiss. You can’t help but feel special around him. He’s one of those guys everyone loves. I mean everyone.
One of the amazing things about Mr. G is he never seems to age. I’m serious. It’s almost eerie. The man has few wrinkles, a full head of hair and still, as always, that constant smile. Even now, as he battles a rare cancer.
During dinner, 27 people stood to share their stories of how this man touched their lives. His kids, grandkids and dear friends told tales of how he helped them with his gifted ability to fix anything at anytime without any problem.
One young man spoke of Mr. G employing him within his company and how everything he has today he owes to him. Pass the Kleenex, please. A waitress from his favorite restaurant spoke of his kindness and, choked with emotion, shared why he’s her favorite customer and now a cherished friend.
His grandkids spoke of grandpa always coming to their rescue whenever they’re in trouble; friends related how easygoing and laid back he is — one of those don’t worry, be happy kinda guys. Stories filled the room with laughter.
Now don’t get me wrong; tears also flowed with touching remembrances, undoubtedly with the hope of more to come. It was the perfect time for everyone to express their love and gratitude to someone who has epitomized the true meaning of a full and successful life, if not simply by who he is and how he makes us feel.
So on this day of thankfulness, I feel blessed to know Mr. G. He and his loving spirit remind me of my own dad, about whom I once wrote: If success can be measured through the love of family and friends, a generous heart and a positive attitude, then Dad is the most successful man I’ve known.
Sounds just like Mr G., doesn’t it?