It is evening and the smell of devil’s food chocolate cupcakes floats through the air in the kitchen. I contemplate what it would be like to be 91 years old.
I met Phil almost six years ago. It was my daily routine to walk from my apartment to Fountain Park every morning at 5:30. I would meet my sister-in-law half way and we would walk two times around the park. She had a little black dog, Lucky, which she had rescued 5 years ago. It was about a three mile walk by the time I walked back to my apartment. As we walked around the park we would always be greeted by a group of friendly retired men. They always gathered around the turtle and chatted about life. They would greet us with a wave of their hands and say ” good morning”. We would reply “good morning” and continued on our way.
Phil and the turtle
After about two years, my husband moved here and we had been given a puppy. She is a brown cocker spaniel with a white mark on her forehead that looks like a Nike brand. She came with the name Chloe. I would walk to the park from the apartment and my husband would drive down to the park with Chloe. We would meet and walk around the park two times as always. We started stopping where the men were because one of them, Phil, was giving out treats to all of the dogs. The dogs all stood around like children waiting to be given candy on Halloween. Phil gave the best treats, real jerky treats. This became our routine. Day by day we began to spend more time talking to the guys and discussing whatever the big event of the day was. My schedule changed and I started teaching early morning classes so I couldn’t walk in the morning. My husband continued the routine and they would always asked him how he was doing and converse about Japan. My husband was Japanese and not too sure about his English skills, but they spoke so that he could understand. They gave him the nickname of “Kyushu Kid” because he was born in Kyushu. He enjoyed talking to them. He called them the “Gentlemen’s Club”.
Phil feeding the dogs
One day I showed up at the park and reported that my husband had passed away. They were so caring and have looked after me ever since. I walk the dog every morning now that I am on the afternoon schedule and try to never miss a day. Phil is the one who gives the big hugs and always has a smile on his face. Today is his birthday and we will gather together at one of the local breakfast dives and celebrate. I am making cupcakes to celebrate our friend, Phil, who arrives every morning at 6:30 a.m. with his treats stashed in pre-used perscription bottles, tucked away is his black designer Gucci bag, slung around his left shoulder.
“I can’t get the girls anymore, but I got the dogs eating out of the palms of my hand.” Phil
Don’t worry Phil, you still got the girls!