Monday was Grampa Bob’s 103rd birthday. He’s not related to me; he’s more like a grampa figure to the town of Brier.
The call came out three years ago during the pandemic, asking the community to drop off a 100th birthday card for Bob. That was our first card for him. A basket on the front door collected the cards.
The card for birthday no. 101 was delivered the same distant manner, again due to the pandemic.
Last year, birthday no. 102, I had the great luck of seeing Bob in person. He was just getting dropped off from lunch, and we talked briefly on his driveway. He extended his hand to shake mine. I was quite honored.
Monday, I had birthday card no. 103 in hand. I stepped up to his door, which was wide open. Only a glass screen door separated the outside from Bob’s living room.
A bunch of helium balloons stood at attention to the left of the doorway.
I rang the doorbell.
Bob: “Who is it?”
Me: “Hi, Grampa Bob. I just came to wish you a happy birthday!”
I could faintly see Bob’s figure swiftly walk across the living room, as the glare of the street reflected on the glass.
Bob opened the screen door. His back straight, his white dress shirt pressed crisp. His eyes as bright as a 25-year-old’s.
Me: “Hi, Grampa Bob. Just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I hope you’ve had a good day today.”
I handed him the yellow envelope containing a card and a little cash. Enough for a meal at McDonald’s, one of his favorite restaurants.
Bob: “Thank you very much. Are you from around here?”
Me: “Yeah, in Mountlake Terrace.”
“Oh,” he said.
I wanted to whip out my iPhone to snap his photo. But my conscience told me this wasn’t the appropriate time.
I wished him a happy birthday once more and quietly departed.
I’m now looking forward to giving him card no. 104 in 365 days.
— Story and photo by David Carlos