We gathered for the 80th birthday celebration for Hank, a dear friend of ours. Before Covid-19, a group sometimes large and sometimes small would meet every Friday at Casa Torres for dinner and conversation. The people who came had one thing in common, they were friends of Hank and his wife. Horses was the other thing everyone had in common. Those who came were owners or previous owners of horses, the common thread of the group.
We met Hank and his wife when I answered an ad for a stall cleaner. I worked for them, cleaning 18 stalls every weekend for six months. We became very good friends. I only worked cleaning stalls for six months, my older body could not handle the physical labor of 18 stalls.
Shortly after starting to work for Hank and his wife, we were invited to join the Friday Dinner Group at Casa Torres. Most of those we met were older than my husband and I, as most of the group was retired. Some of us talked about current horse events we were training and competing in. Others talked about past events and horses. The conversations were about horses, riding techniques, chiropractors, farriers, and the events competed in. We would talk until told the restaurant was closing.
Tonight the whole group, less two who happened to be in the Cayman Islands, were there, 27 of us. We had gathered to celebrate the birthday of a remarkable man and dear friend.
It was so pleasurable to see and talk with everyone again. Conversation was catching up with each other’s lives from the two years we had not seen one another. Learning the ups and downs, injuries and horses retired.
I feel the Covid-19 stole two years from life. In the beginning of Covid-19, with states restricting where people could go, I could not even visit family. Casa Torres had closed. No dinner meetings. No seeing friends, since they were quite a few years older than myself, I would not risk exposing them to Covid-19. The area we would trail ride was closed.
We all had missed each other and the weekly gatherings at Casa Torres.
As business and the area gradually opened. Some of us were able to meet to ride. When riding horses, you are more than six feet apart. But the Friday dinner group did not meet. Hank, who went on dialysis a year before Covid-19 would not risk being exposed. He also has not ridden horses for over a year.
We had gathered to celebrate a birthday for Hank. There were to be no gifts.
There was a gift given, from Hank to all of us, we all met together.
Tonight was special.
Tonight will be remember.
We gathered again at Casa Torres.
P.S. The restaurant had cleared all the tables and all the chairs, except ours were on the tables. We had left after closing tonight.