Bill McAllister got married this past Saturday, in an absolutely lovely wedding out in Amagansett, Long Island. It was a perfect summer afternoon: warm but not too warm, a slight breeze, shade beneath the trees, beautiful music, delicious food and drink, good company.
I wish at times like this that I were a better public speaker, or in fact capable of speaking publicly at all, because there are things that I would like to have toasted, that I would like to have said.
I would have liked to explain that Bill has been such a presence in my life, such a fixture, that anyone who knows me at all well knows at least his name.
I was five or six years old when Bill first came into our lives, quickly befriending my father at Barnard after our move to the Bronx -- a rather turbulent time for this displaced west coast family suddenly set adrift in New York City.
He's pretty much been around ever since.
I would have liked to explain how Bill kind of sort of took the three of us under his wing for awhile after Dad's death, coming up from the city to spend weekends with us in Mohegan as often as he could, and eventually helping Mom move across the country to settle in Anacortes, Washington and re-find her western roots.
Bill has continued to be a presence in the years since we all left Mohegan Lake, keeping an eye on me and Nate in his unobtrusive yet incredibly warm and affectionate way.
It's tempting sometimes to call him a father figure but that's not quite right, because he's never felt parental, exactly, to me.
And it's tempting to refer to him as a friend but friend isn't quite right either. He's always provided a sense of comfort, of being looked after, of being home, that one wouldn't ask or expect of a friend.
Familial, perhaps, though again that sounds somehow too... something. Too formal, too constricted, too obligatory.
So it was strange, when other guests at the wedding asked me how we know Bill, to not have a ready answer.
He was one of my father's best friends. But he is also just our Bill, our Bill McAllister, and dear to us.
We'd never even met Jill before the wedding on Saturday, but already we approved. To finally meet her was merely a formality in the process of growing to love her. The loving her started as soon as we began noticing a certain calmness, a certain new contentment, in Bill a year or so ago.
So to Bill & Jill, may you have many, many joyful and happy years of sharing this whole togetherness thing.