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Happy Birthday Sydney!

April 13, 2012

April 13th is Sydney’s birthday; today she would have been 36. To remember her and mark the occasion, I hosted a small gathering last night. There were a number of stories told which brought laughter and joy, and I thought I’d share one of my favorite stories, which I relayed to the group.

To give you some background, for our  honeymoon, we choose to take a road trip through the North Carolina mountains, stopping at various cabins and B&B’s along the way. One of our favorite spots was The Greystone Inn in Lake Toxoway both because of the beautifully isolated setting and the killer dinner and breakfast included with the room. After our first year of marriage in Chapel Hill, we moved to Charlotte and began to enjoy frequent weekend trips to the mountains because of their proximity.

While we almost never went to the same place, the Greystone was one that we always doubled back to at least once every couple of years, generally going up on a Saturday morning and staying just one night. In one memorable Fall trip it started snowing on our trip up and our little Camry was sliding all over the roads by the time we got there. It continued to snow throughout the weekend and even though we only planned to stay one night, we were snowed in along with the entire staff!! Luckily we had purchased a plastic sled at a Wal-mart and spent much of the time sliding down the snow-covered hills on the neighborhood golf course. I think there was only one other couple there that weekend.

Well, a year or so ago, during one of her comeback periods, we decided to slip away to the Greystone yet again, for what would be our last trip there. During our candlelit, jackets-required, four course dinner, Sydney began to look around. There was a classical guitar player playing softly, various couples talking quietly to each other (most significantly older than us), and staff buzzing about, all reverently playing their roles to set the mood.

I could see something rise up in her as she said, “I just want to do something crazy.” “What do you mean?” I said. “Everything here is so… you know,” she said. “What will you give me if I take this lampshade and throw it across the room?” she said, pointing to the small decorative lampshade on the votive candle on the table.

“You won’t do it,” I said, knowing that as much as she wanted to, she would not bring herself to carry it out. As soon as the words were released from my mouth, and without breaking eye contact with me, Sydney flung that lampshade as hard as she could across the room. It went flying past several tables of couples directly towards the guitar player’s chair. Luckily he was on a smoke-break or something because the chair was empty. It struck the chair and went rolling on the ground across the dining area.

My jaw was almost on the floor. To this day, it was the absolute most impulsive, visceral act I have ever witnessed. About this time our waitress walked out as Sydney was returning to the table with the lampshade in hand. We were chuckling and she could tell that something was up. She looked at us inquisitively. “Do you know where I could buy one of there lampshades?” Sydney asked her. “I don’t know,” she said, still trying to figure out what the joke was. “The owner does all the decoration.”

One of Sydney’s favorite quotes was by Harry S. Truman: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” She quoted this to me after the waitress walked away, which I anticipated.

As the evening came to a close, we got up from the table and began walking out the door. As Sydney proceeded me, I could see her eyeing the desert tray display to the right of us near the kitchen. She just could not stand the perfect presentation. The pie topped with flawlessly sculptured Crisco (made to look like whipped cream) was especially annoying to her. So, she looked back and me, and then rebelliously mashed her thumb into the Crisco on top of the pie. This was her final act of rebellion as we walked out the door.

On the way to the room, she immediately had remorse. “Was that bad? Should I go back and apologize?” she asked. All I could do was laugh. “What if the same waitress is working at breakfast in the morning? What am I going to do?” she asked. “It won’t be the same waitress,” I assured her.

By the next morning, her conscience had ripened and Sydney was really feeling bad. On the way to breakfast she said, “Should I apologize? I feel like I should talk to them.” “No,” I said, having reached my limit of awkward situations for the trip. We sat outside on the patio at a corner table, and you can probably guess that the exact same wait staff was working that morning. I wish you could have seen Sydney sitting there. She looked like Jackie O with her coat, scarf and big sunglasses, despite the 60 degree weather.

As every table around us chatted casually, Sydney looked as guilty as a dog in the corner. It was all I could do to keep Sydney from spilling the beans, all the while beaming with amusement from the situation. As we walked away from the breakfast together I remember shaking my head thinking, “She really is one of a kind.”

From → Stories

10 Comments
  1. Sadee permalink

    Soooooo great!!!! What a story, what a woman!!
    Thank you for sharing this fun Sydney story with all of us….praying for you guys….I’m so sorry she’s not with you to celebrate her beautiful life.

  2. Happy Birthday, Sydney! Todd, I pray this day will be a blessing to you, even though it will be incredibly hard. Your continued hope and strength, expressed through your beautifully written posts, are encouraging and inspiring. Sending lots of hugs your way…

    Anne Breuer Huitt

  3. Rye Johnson permalink

    Oh how I adore this story! It’s one of those to cherish forever. It is SO Syd & is making me laugh. There’s just nothing better than witnessing her feisty behavior. Sending extra love your way today. Happy Birthday Syd.

  4. Barbara Guller permalink

    Thank you so much Todd for yet another wonderful Sydney story. I follow all your writings and they really touch my heart. You have truly given me the gift of knowing Sydney through your writings. With love and appreciation,

    Barbara Guller

  5. Mary Margaret Boulware permalink

    Thinking of you and the children today, Todd. I laughed out loud when I read this Sydney story! Love to all of the Gaylords, Mary Margaret and John

  6. Margie permalink

    What a great story!! That is hysterical! Much love to you today on Sydney’s birthday. I look forward to reading all of your posts, for many reasons, but I really need the reminders of how temporary this life is and how I try so hard to make it my real home. Soon and very soon we are going to see the King.

  7. Molly Painter permalink

    Todd,
    I love that story and could feel your discomfort and also admire Sydney’s rebellion while smiling throug it. Happy Birthday to Sydney!
    Love,
    All the Painters

  8. becky walker permalink

    My daughter-in-law Susan Walker (friend of Robbie’s) gave me a beautiful In Loving Memory of Sydney necklace. I have several pieces that Sydney made for me, which I treasure. The Sydney necklace was made for her, and is a beautiful tribute to her beautiful spirit. I love it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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