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Snow at last.  Echoed across the Chicago area for the past few months has been the theme of the lack of true snowfall we have had here.  Last winter was a dry one, so much so that my snow blower never left the shed in my back yard.  This season has been the same with very little of the wintry white that gives our landscape so much beauty during the cold months.  Without it there seems so little reason to enjoy the cold weather.  “Snow at last” has been heaved with a satisfied sigh by many friends in the last few days.  Evan a blizzard would be welcomed, odd as that seems.

My PTCruiserToTheAutoPartsStore even seems to welcome the snow this morning, a fresh dusting of snow mixing with the gray coat so appropriate for my old car, giving it a handsome distinguished look.  No matter how much I grouse about the car, deep down I really like my vehicle.  My old friend, Gibby, an eighty year old black man who possessed the same handsome distinguished look my old car is sporting this morning, used to poke a lot of fun at the Cruiser.  Gibby had a soft spot for old Cadillacs, jazz music, and people.  His good natured ribbing helped me to appreciate the car, something I had to learn simply because I bought the car because it was cheap and had a bit of turbo charged zip to it.  Gibby had a way of opinionated appreciation, delivered with a gentle yet ornery smile, and I learned to be thankful for that car in the straightforward way he told me to be grateful for what I have.  He liked knowing about my life, a black man who had grown up tough in Omaha, showing me that I truly am blessed.  I can’t help but think about him when I look at my PT Cruiser or listen to a good jazz tune.

The snow.  My friends.  My car.  Gibby.  All blessings, gifts presented to me in a way that convince me I am special.  Think about that for a few seconds and you will know what I mean.

Gibby was an online friend, someone I met by chance through a blog I used to have.  I found him when a random search for fans of Bob Gibson, one of my all time favorite St. Louis Cardinal pitchers, found Gibby’s page.  There were paintings of Gibson on Gibby’s site as well as pictures, so I made Gibby a contact.  And I found out later on that I was making friends with Bob Gibson’s older brother.  How cool is that?  For a lifetime Cardinal fan, it’s downright awesome.

And I learned another lesson from Gibby – sometimes it’s not so easy living in the limelight of another’s accomplishments.  Gibby had his own life and, though he was too polite to really say it, he really preferred staying out of that limelight.  And so I learned to love Fred “Gibby” Gibson, the true Gibby in my eyes and others, aside from who was related to.

Gibby also complimented me in a way that I need, indirectly, commenting one time about my way with words being something he wished he had.  He said the same about Sandy’s photography with a genuine admiration, a gift he possessed.  He made me glad for what I have, aware of what I have.  Gibby was a man who lived through a lot, loved deeply, persevered, benefitted from mistakes he made — and shared that with me in a way that showed me the importance of staying with what means the most to me and maintaining what I want to keep.  A bit like my PTCruiserToTheAutoPartsStore, a vehicle that has taught me the value of seeing past the quirks.

There are only a few online friends I have met face to face during my years of writing a blog.  There are three who I consider to be a true God send, friends in the truest sense of the word, who have been there with me for several years now.  One of those friends is Sandy, a whacked out mother of three from Minnesota who clicked with me from day one, a gifted photographer who loved the way I responded to a photo challenge by sending her a picture of myself in a bathroom stall (ummm… in a non creepy pose).  She doctored the photo by putting herself in the photo wielding what she called a “poop knife”.  Thus our relationship began, an honest friendship that many misguided people have confused as something romantic, but it’s a kinship that has been a blessing to us both.  Sandy and I met a few years ago, when she drove with her mother to meet me at a halfway point for a few hours.. and photos of us together at urinals in a men’s room (the theme progressed) as well as a fake photo of her sitting on my back beating me up.  Sandy is a genuine sister to me.

And a little over a year ago she suggested we go to Omaha to visit Gibby.  She also had become a friend to Gibby.  I think he was a bit infatuated with her.  So we did.  Sandy found cheap airfare for us both, we flew to Omaha on a Friday afternoon, met him, took him to dinner, went to his favorite jazz club (the Touch of Class), and spent a great night face to face with our friend Gibby.  It was one of the best things I have ever done, meeting one of the warmest human beings with a genuine smile.  Gibby.  Sandy thought Gibby was very handsome, an 82 year old man who still had it.  The live jazz was wonderful.  The time with friends spectacular.

Gibby died this past December.  Had it not been for Sandy, I never would have met the Gibby face to face, never would have gained the depth of friendship that only could have been gained by meeting my friend.  There are things in my life now that remind me of him.  I am glad for that.

The snow outside looks beautiful.