This Was the Year
It has been quite a year; it began and ended with trips to North Carolina, a state which has had a rather historical year of its own, but that is not the history I will dwell on here.
As 2016 draws to a close, I feel compelled to spend a few minutes reflecting on a year, which has become one of the more significant in my life, and perhaps, given all that has occurred on the larger world stage, a year that has laid the foundation for changes yet to come for us all.
Sitting to write, on the last day of November of 2016, I am almost comfortable with saying that November alone was sufficiently potent to not need to further examine the previous ten months; but only almost.
There have been so many headlines this year regarding the elections and racial tensions in the United States, equally prominent the deadly terrorist attacks that have spanned the globe, on-going wars and refugee crisis, countless anniversaries from things like William Shakespeare death (400 years ago) to Route 66’s creation (90 years old this year), and of course this has been a year of remarkable scientific, artistic, and athletic achievements, but I will leave those many milestones for others to pounder.
Instead, as I get ready to begin the last month of this year, what I would like to say to you is do not waste time with regret or procrastination; Nike got it right – just do it – just go – just take a chance – engage in life, and by all means stop to record and to remember.
Yes, this year has seen its fair share of heartache, everything from dealing with health issues, our own and others, to standing by watching our friends and loved ones lose their jobs, we have born witness to personal disappointments, family sorrows, world-wide catastrophic events, and everything in between; however, as this year began, for some reason, I felt hope – what a beautifully wonderful thing hope is – though I certainly had no set expectations of what I hoped for in 2016, I was content to hope.
Repeatedly, this has been a year where it seems that almost every step we have taken has been taken“kicking and screaming”. The truly silly thing is that even after an incredibly successful year of living with wonder we continued repeatedly trying to talk ourselves out of, whatever adventure we were next contemplating. There would be this moment where we would go through how much we needed to get done or how tired we felt or whatever other senseless excuse we could come up with for not going or doing, and then look at each other and say, what is wrong with us? As it would take about thirty seconds of regaling the results of our previous party or phone call or trip or deed, to say let’s get to it – live!
We welcomed the New Year at my niece and her husband’s New Year’s Eve Party, a party which we did not want to go – why? Not a single good reason, except that we do not normally go out on New Year’s, but we have this little mantra that says if we are invited someplace we go, so we went and we were not sorry. We got to bear witness to their first party as a married couple, spending a lovely evening with friends and family, in their home, and most importantly marked the moment – that matters, moments must be marked.
For me, life is defined by people, places, and moments remembered, at the end of the day. I want to go to bed every night feeling more than merely content, I want to feel that every day was actually lived to its fullest – something not always easy to do, I well know.
The people that matter, to me, are not just people that I know, but the stranger I am sitting next to in a public place, the person who I interact with at a second hand store, or the individual who has written or created something which moves me – those people who we sometimes crash into and other times barely graze against, who nevertheless leave an impact on our life, and let us know that on that day we were alive.
The places are anywhere and everywhere. I want to go places that I once knew, where I revisit favorite restaurants and drive by old houses that were once home, places where I get to touch history and fill my mind with new ideas and information, and places which offer new vistas and opportunities to feel; as well as places in my own home and the homes of the people I love, where memories are made.
The moments are all of those seconds spent with people in places and alone with my thoughts and feelings, walking through the world; each and every moment matters, and as we grow older, we scoop up those moments with both arms, and soon find that we are holding our life.
Tonight, we each have a long to-do list, including writing articles, which will not be posted at midnight, because instead of staying home and dealing with life’s demands, on this chilly, rainy night, we decided it was more important to go to the hospital and spend time with family and friends, visiting baby Lucy again!
As I sat there, this evening, marveling at Lucy, I will admit that my thoughts of joy were tempered by my concern for Stephanie, who tomorrow will find herself in a hospital, dealing with a less pleasant sojourn. I thought about how she must feel, about her children, and sisters, and all of the other people, in her life, who are grieved tonight. I said a quiet prayer for her, and then opened my arms to hold Lucy, telling her quietly that this life, it is both bitter and sweet and what matters is what we do with what we are given.
Thus, I end this year, truly amazed at how merciful God has been to us in 2016, I am slightly shocked at what an outstanding year it has been, at the people I was able to see and meet, the places I visited, and all of the remarkable moments, which have brought me to this point in time. I take note of a few of our highlights, not to show off, but to share my joy with you and I ask that ask you to do the same. That is all for now.
A Few of Our Highlights
Hannah and Tim’s New Year’s Eve Party
Realizing how very comfortable I feel in hotels and on new streets
Stay at the Eliot Hotel
Death of Glen Fry
Return to Winslow
Finally reading Zane Grey
Reconnecting with Old Friends
Also finally finding a hotel in Washington D.C. that we like
Boneless chicken wings with Christine as we celebrated her birthday
Being able to meet and speak with political candidates that I admired
Seeing the Tuskegee Airmen Museum
A sojourn in Huntsville, which will one day be written about
A perfect dinner at Kenny’s and Ziggy’s
Coming very close to recreating Kenny’s and Ziggy’s cheesecake
Not writing down the recipe I created
Making my way to the Oklahoma City National Memorial
Stopping to visit the Winston Churchill Memorial
Going back to Tampa with peace
And being able to see Donna with joy, not just shared sorrow
Touring Fairchild Gardens with our dear friends the Barros-Jardines Family
Celebrating Caroline, Doug, and Kate’s milestone birthdays
Being able to share our home in Maine with the Barros-Jardines Family
Road trip with the Barros-Jardines Family
Learning that Pilgrim Hall Museum is the oldest museum in the United States
Going to the oldest museum in the United States
Sharing Philadelphia with people who live the values enshrined there
Eating a Waffle House waffle in Atlanta, with five people
Stone Mountain after dark, music playing, fireworks blazing, and perfect company
Being able to stay at the Georgian Terrace
Acquaintances becoming friends
Embracing the role and identity of a historian
Experiencing a moment where I realized I had to stop grieving for my Mother, and celebrate her
Seeing Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings house, which made me feel like both a Floridian and a writer
Feeling as comfortable in New York City as I do in Los Angeles
Finally making it inside WestPoint, and not just driving by
The Yiddish museum
Getting caught up with all post on That Is All For Now
Celebrating nine years of That Is All For Now
Meeting and interacting with so many strangers on the road
Riding the roller coaster in Old Orchard Beach
Not riding the roller coaster at Coney Island
Building a fire pit in Maine
Reconnecting with Amy who I had not seen since she was a little girl
Reunion with Leona, and Uncle Glen and Aunt Beverly, and Kim
Seeing Nancy Again
And getting a very nifty tour of her work place from her outstanding boss
Adding two writers to That Is All For Now
Finding out that my Father hung out with Roberto Clemente
Staying at the Towers, like General Douglas MacArthur and President Hoover – almost like them
The Teddy Roosevelt Island – another finally
Sagamore Hill, also finally
Sharing Kate’s first trip to Hawaii, where so much happened
Being able to witness Kate’s professional accomplishments, long deserved
Accepting that this is who I am and have always been, and I am okay with that – yes finally too
Getting to know my new neighbors in Florida and those in Maine who were long before us
Birthday cake on the beach with the Barros-Jardines Family – Patty you were missed
My Sister giving me the exact same birthday card, I had purchased for her next birthday
Sharing Winslow Homer’s House with my family
General Douglas MacArthur’s Museum and Memorial
Saying good-bye to the Republican Party
Election of the Donald Trump
The new President will work for free, I am no longer alone in this area
Maybe working for free will become a thing
Stay at the Algonquin
Eating at Carnegies before it closes – much prefer Katz
Seeing Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, with Kate – her most favorite of musicals
Finally saw the real Winnie the Pooh
Kate finally saw the real Winnie the Pooh – her favorite plush animal
The Durham Bulls – yes all about the movie
Adding Donna and Carolyn to the Family page on my social media
Char getting on-line
Death of the dictator and tyrant finally
Birth of Lucille Marlene
Ana hit Like, on That Is All For Now, with so complete ease, giving us joy
It is only December 1 – what will the rest of the year bring