They say a knight in shining armor is a man who never had his metal tested. I met a few of them; I even dated them. You know, the dudes whose metal suit was actually tin foil. That’s why I almost missed the knight whose armor had as many dings and tarnishes as his car bumper. He was the real deal. He fought his share of dragons, especially the most fearsome of all. And when you constantly battle the beast, even the most deepest of loves have emotional jousts. But then again, as I stood all those years beside my husband, he had way more than his ‘metal’ tested. His spirit, self-confidence, courage and self-esteem were tried way beyond what most people can tolerate. And each time, he got back on that horse (or green Nissan) to battle another day.
Today is this knight’s birthday.
He loved everything about medieval knights. He had a little room full of toy collectible Knights of Agincourt who hung around castles he painstakingly crafted. This was a guy who took supreme pleasure in sharing his love of those men in armor with our grandsons at Medieval Times for their 5th birthdays. I could never decide who loved the pageantry more – him or them. The last time we were there, we joked that we had to rest up before we took one the smallest of the teenies but that will never happen. Grandpa knight died barely 2 months later.
His castles are getting dusty now. The knights have no one to arrange and rearrange them. And I can barely stand to even walk into that room knowing he’ll never be sitting and plotting his next diorama again.
Those ‘Happy Birthday in Heaven’ statements would have made him laugh. (they just mystify and annoy me) Chivalrous though he was, the idea of ‘happy’ anything when someone is gone forever would inspire more sardonic puns than you could count. And honestly, I suspect there are no calendars in next realm nor reasons to ‘celebrate’ what was only important in this terra firma.
The truth is, my man was never comfortable with celebrations for himself. Like me, we got much more joy planning them for others. This was a knight who preferred his birthday celebrations over candlelight, with me and fettucine (his, not mine), a dish I always referred to as ‘heart attack on a plate’. Rather than big bashes, he blissfully savored my daughter’s lovingly baked-just-for-him outrageous cupcakes and the grandkids’ homemade cards I found he carefully saved in his dresser.
That’s why I won’t say ‘happy’ birthday to the handsome, funny, guy who won my heart. But I will celebrate the man who would be quoting Monty Python whose knights said ‘Ni’ and went to work each day, treating cancer as if it was just a ‘flesh wound’. In the end, the dragon won. But he will always have my heart and I will always have a knight to remember.