Joe got out of the car at Mattebella Vineyard and was all confused. There were so many cars in the parking lot and a tent set up in the vineyard. He kept asking, "What's going on here?" After Alece and Andrew (the two out-of-state children) ran over to him, he finally realized what was happening.
The "boys", Michael and Andrew, led him over to all the guests waiting under the tent.
One after another, we both had reunions like this one!
Musician, Dave Kotliar, played awesome background music for the day.
This was the view out of one side of the tent at Mattebella Vineyard.
A boy at heart!
This is Howie with Joe - lifelong buddies, even though they rarely ever see each other.
Joe with Randy, his childhood next door neighbor and best friend. Joe and Randy hadn't seen each other in about 35 years. The split second the saw each other, the "remember whens" started. Our daughter, Alece, is on the right.
And Randy and Harriet brought BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS. Wow! They drove up from the DC area just for the party. Other friends drove up from North Carolina. How blessed we are!
Bob, a friend and co-worker said Grace before we ate and then Joel, another friend and co-worker toasted Joe. Very emotional!
Our children and I prayed blessings over the birthday boy.
Various people were sharing funny and sentimental stories. Donna, a co-worker and friend from years ago, shared from her heart and set the tears a flowing - again!
Bob Q sang songs to Joe. He started out with This Song Is For You, which had us in tears. Then he sang a song he wrote about a couple of funny episodes from Joe's past, which had us in hysterics.
Later in the day, Bob sang his rendition of Amazing Grace - blowing us all away. Thank you, Q!
Alece in a tender moment with her Daddy after her prayer.
And a dancing moment with her "vintage" Dad.
Andrew with his Dad after the prayer time.
Then came THE GUITAR...
"Close your eyes and put out your hands, Joe."
(And Joe sat like this through the whole speech. Patiently waiting.)
The whole purpose of the party was to present Joe with the guitar I bought him.
This is the precious guitar that I saved and planned for - for two years. Below is my presentation "speech". I share it with you, my blogging community. This guitar is a custom-made, one-of-a-kind Gibson - made for a specific musician. He played it for only 30 minutes and then added it to his guitar collection. Because he is friends with Alece, he sold it to me for an unbelievable price. Thank you, Al Dinardi!
Here are my words to Joe (affectionately known as Guin):
Forty years ago, we were just out of HS - we were kids. You did something that changed the course of our lives. You sold your treasured guitar to buy me an engagement ring.
Your selfless gesture showed me what kind of man you were - even at that young age. You were willing to sacrifice - to give up something that meant so much to you and was a reflection of your singleness - to show me love and your willingness to become one with me. It no longer was Joe Ronzino, but we became Guin and Kid. One.
And you didn’t just purchase me an engagement ring from that guitar money. You purchased a quality stone and then custom designed the setting. It is, as far as I know, the only one in the world like it. And you gave it to me from the treasure of your heart.
We started our lives. Our children were born, and you have provided for your family all these years.
Over the course of these 40 years, you purchased yourself guitars - only to give each one of them away to someone who had a need or a desire. You even purchased a magnificent saxophone for an aged musician who desired to play the blues once more.
Guin, a couple of years ago, I started planning to purchase you something special for your 60th birthday. This party is a result of wanting to have a few friends at your favorite vineyard so that I could present you with this long-awaited gift. The party was planned around this presentation, like icing on a cake.
Like my engagement ring, this gift also was custom designed. This too, as far as I know, is the only one in the world like it. And I give it to you from the treasure of my heart. Happy birthday, Guin!