The Gathering – Without Me

I was in Hong Kong last week, doing the day job thing. Bad timing, because while I was there, the Annual Scotch Tasting Party gathered. This is the same event chronicled a while back in my blog entry, “A 21st Of Scotch,” which is alarming to me when I realize how long I’ve had this blog running.

Anyway, the math still holding straight unless the current Administration deems an alternative math is more worthy, twenty-five years ago, my good friend John invited some like-minded soccer players to a specialized single-malt Scotch-tasting party.

We were all assigned a region of Scotland and to bring a Scotch from that region. I still remember that I brought a Dalmore. Our organizer brought a Laphroig and had a charming tale of how it came to him.

Over the course of years, we added some others attendees of like minds and high joviality.

The Gathering evolved as well. We brought food. We brought poems, brain teasers, other literary things. Over 25 years, there’s simply too much to talk about, like the time with the bagpipe player, or the excursion in the limo (a photo of which is in that other blog post).

One of my favorite memories is of us all free-associating “group” names for a given genre. If a group of crows is a murder, what is a group of lawyers? A conspiracy. (Yes, yes, this is mentioned in the other blog post as well, but I like it, so I’m repeating it.) And so on.

During our 25 years, longer than some marriages, we have seen among us divorces, remarriages, births, births of grandchildren, changes in career.

And just this last year, we also tragically had a Death. Jim, the nicest guy among us, heroically fighting a battle with leukemia, taking it to unheard levels, fighting against the ravages of the disease and the cures to see his kids graduate from high school, get engaged married, play with his grandchildren, before finally succumbing to the merciless advancements of the disease/cure process.

Now to the present. Last week, I was in Hong Kong, making good money, during this last one. Yes, out of all the last 24 years, I finally missed the 25th. I won’t lie. It was terrible, particularly because it was the first one without Jim. But sometimes life intervenes. I Skyped with the group while they drank and I rubbed my eyes at Hong Kong International Airport. Thank you, technology.

So from Pat’s toast, which I don’t remember too well, but the guts of it were:

We lift our glass
To those here
To those who are distant
To those who are no longer with us

We are Friends, bonded in camaraderie, in our interests, in our life stations, and in ties of friendship that can never be revoked.

Slainte, my friends! See you next year.

— Grandpa

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