Come Back Anytime

April 4, 2016 -- Some people bring joy everywhere they go.  Our friend Dan Barnes was one of those blessed folks.  And so is Holly Downing, his wife.

Tom and I know them from our years living in Columbus.  We were delighted when they came to visit us in Sanibel ten years and two months ago -- January 2006.

We dined al fresco at Doc Ford's the first night of their visit, and the second night, we had accepted an invitation to an open-house cocktail party for prospective members at The Sanctuary Golf Club. We're no golfers, but I'm a serious swimmer, and the pool at the city's recreation center was closed, or about to be closed.  I was hoping that the recent renovations at The Sanctuary included an enlargement of their swimming pool.  If so, we just might have bought a social membership.

Holly, Tom and Dan look at exotic creatures in Periwinkle Park on Sanibel.
Later that day, we partied at The Sanctuary.

We asked Dan and Holly if they would like to go with us to The Sanctuary.  They said yes, with enthusiasm!  After a several minutes at the party, I was worried that we'd made a mistake.  The hosts were not great at conversation.  The party was awkward and stiff.  I finally got people talking about their European vacations.  That was a little better.

But the party still had room for improvement.  As Dan and I stood in conversation with the general manager of the club, Dan eyed the grand piano a few yards away.  The general manager astutely noticed his interest, and said, "We just had that piano tuned three times in a row.  It's perfect now!  Would you like to play it?"

Dan smiled modestly and said, "Yeah, sure."  He sat down and began to play wonderfully, as he always did.  He took requests.  People from the party gathered around.  The people at the bar all came out and joined us, too.  Dan played whatever was requested, including fight songs from various universities.  Holly sang a raunchy and delightful version of "Don't Advertise Your Man."  The party was alive!  Everyone was having fun!  People smiled, laughed, relaxed -- just as people always did at Holly's and Dan's parties back in Columbus, years ago.

At last we were given our tour of The Sanctuary's facilities.  The pool size was unchanged, alas -- too small for real swimmers.

The general manager tried to convince us to stay so Dan could play more, but the four of us had theater tickets.  It was time to go.  The party was over.  "Come back anytime," the general manager said to Dan, handing him one of his cards.  "We'd love to have you play here whenever you're on Sanibel."

Now Dan can only come back in our memories.  He passed away yesterday morning in Ohio.  We shall miss him enormously.

Dining at Doc Ford's on January 30, 2006, with Dan and Holly.


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