The lobby was filled with so much red, white and blue today that if you didn’t know better, you might think you were south of the Cheddar Curtain and into Cubs territory. We are in the middle of a three game series between the Brewers and their rivals to the south, bringing Cubs fans from all over the Midwest into The Pfister. Cubbie caps and tees were de rigueur for the day, with super fans adding jackets, and a few tiny baseball enthusiasts sporting full uniforms, lacking only cleats and bats.
Amid the sea of Wrigley Field natives I encountered a multi-generational group of Cubs fans who also had a yen for history and architecture. The series brought Aunt Rhoda in from the Twin Cities, and her niece Rachael, with her children 14 year old Gavin and 11 year old Tessa in tow, up from the Chicagoland area. Also, along in spirit, as well as in the form of a hand-held sign, was Annetta, who was celebrating her 101st birthday that day. Although she could not make the trip to see the game, the group made sure the Cubs loving great-grandmother was part of the day’s festivities.
The family popped into the hotel in hopes of meeting some of their National League idols, but instead quickly met me and decided they’d love to get a closer look at the hotel. Together, we strolled around the building. I pointed out a few of the places that have becomes favorites of mine over the past few weeks: the Governor’s Suite, a display of vintage keys from different eras in the hotel, a lovely stair rail on the 7th floor and a few other special surprises I have uncovered as I have explored the nooks and crannies in the common areas. It was a delight to watch Tessa as she saw for the first time things I have loved for years. When she exclaimed with wide-eyes that the second floor “looks like a palace,” I felt the joy of her discovery and it enchanted me. Each member of the group was engaged in the exploration and eager to see the next elegant surprise waiting to be uncovered. Our walk quickly became a shared pleasure.
Before long, our walk was over and I took the group back to the lobby, having grown very fond of them in our short time together. As we talked over their plans for the remainder of the day, an earnest, yet faint suggestion was made that the group play a game of cards before moving on. Their initial reluctance to embrace the suggestion was met with my insistence. The lobby was made to be enjoyed. It has seen 125 years of merriment and a quick hand of cards would add to that legacy.
The crew decided to order some drinks and play a rousing round of pinochle in the lobby bar. Before I knew it, I heard the sound of cards being slapped rapidly on the granite table top, often punctuated by the chorus of joyful laughter that rang like a bell, cutting through the din of the busy lobby. As hand after hand was dealt, drinks turned into lunch. I’d peek in on them occasionally, each glimpse giving me another reason to smile; it was a delight to watch these four people who were so happy to be together.
The world often leaves us rushed and harried, even on pleasurable days there are sights to see and agenda to follow; we seem to be endlessly “on the go.” Today, I observed what happens when a group of people who love each other toss aside their plans and opt to revel in the here and now. Based on their high spirits, and promises to return as they were leaving, they missed nothing by changing their plans.
Reflecting on this meeting, while their smiling faces are still perfectly formed in my mind, I am apt to conclude I received a reminder of how one creates a well-lived life. While timeworn, the old adage “take time to smell the roses” was certainly proven today. Or, perhaps better suited for the circumstance, one should “stop and play a hand of pinochle.”
* in pinochle a meld is “a combination of cards declared, especially by putting them face up on the table”