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Victor Borge did a marvelous routine years ago featuring a mock Mozart opera. After a perfunctory piano piece, he announced, “That was the overture, — and when the ture is over, that’s all there is to it.” Later, after much hilarity, he described the opera’s conclusion by saying, “The curtain falls, but not hard enough,” which, come to think of it, sums up my sentiments upon seeing 2013 enter the history books.
I began 2013 by refusing to make any New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I rung in the year by running in to a deer near the New York / Pennsylvania state line, after which I spent the better part of a week and a half in Carlisle, PA while craftsmen at a local body shop restored the Ride of Pride to her full glory. Perhaps I should have resolved something.
This was the year in which I saw my step parent succumb to a monstrous and monstrously aggressive brain tumor. It was a time when most of the family rallied to her side to comfort her, comfort and cry with each other, and pray ardently, first for healing, and then for a merciful end to the suffering. One of my favorite little sayings is that crisis doesn’t build character, but rather, reveals it. Such was the case with Mom’s illness as she spent more time worrying about us than about herself. It was a time of clarification as, in the case of most catastrophes, one is often surprised by the quarters from which help emanates and those from which it doesn’t.
The year that began with my Dad in full humor, thankfully, concludes with a hopeful restoration of his spirit. Mom’s death, coming as it did in the middle of his own battle with Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart problems, and seemingly every other malady known to man, sent him into a dangerous spiral. With grief unending, he had lost over 30 pounds since late September as Sis and I both lost weeks of work to stay by his side and encourage him. I’m happy to report that some prayers were answered over the Christmas holiday, and he seems on the rebound.
Aside from personal challenges and tragedies, 2013 was a year in which many friendships were formed, while others were renewed. For me, this was largely a tribute to the Ricochet community and my own good fortune in attending several gatherings across the country. You folks will never know how much light and warmth you bring to what is otherwise a fairly solitary lifestyle, and I thank you.
Mindful of the lessons of the past year, some of which were learned happily while others brought pain, and while beginning 2014 back in Carlisle, PA, I’ve resolved the following:
* Watch for deer.
* Time is fleeting and tomorrow is not guaranteed, so don’t miss a chance to tell a loved one that you love them.
* Going from a child who is cared for, to a child who cares for a parent is an awkward transition. Be as generous with your affection to a parent as you hope your children will be with you.
* I herewith renew my request to my own children to keep me out of hospitals with the word “Memorial” in them, since the ostensible purpose of a hospital is to prevent my memorialization.
* Be productive. In my case, this means picking up the pace of my writing and finishing the book I started last year.
* Look after your health, be it with exercise, diet, or, for me, resolving to finally get a physical for the first time in over a decade.
* Try to add more smiles than you take.
* Life is a gift, but one you must yourself build. Embrace the opportunity and employ your talents.
From yet another parking lot, safely and warmly ensconced in the ultimate man-cave on 18 wheels, please accept my thanks for your friendship and good wishes, as well as my wish to each of you for a happy and prosperous New Year.