So here it is. The last day of 2016.
By all accounts, it has been a tough year for a lot of people.
The election brought out the absolute worst in people; I remain shell-shocked at the hatred and bigotry that I see so flagrantly exhibited in our country.
Many beloved heroes, celebrities, and athletes left us: David Bowie, Arnold Palmer, John Glenn, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Patty Duke, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Harper Lee, Pat Conroy, Nancy Reagan, Mohammed Ali, Merle Haggard, Elie Weisel, Florence Henderson – just to name a tiny handful. This short list alone contains people who wrote amazing books I read, acted on screens large or small that I watched with rapt attention, or sang songs that are part of the soundtrack of my life. I vividly remember being 5 years old and watching John Glenn “splash down” on our old black and white television. I also remember learning about integrity as I watched Mohammed Ali, standing up for his beliefs against the draft and serving time in prison for that decision (rather than escaping to Canada). While I never actually MET these people, they still have some influence in my life and helped to create who I am.
We also said good-bye to some dear friends and relatives. An aunt – one of those near and dear that “helped raise me” passed away. And one dear friend left us way too soon. Alzheimer’s robbed him of his joy and in turn robbed us of his smiling face and eventually his presence.
On a personal level, our family was hit with several health issues this year. One day a grandson is playing like a normal toddler, a couple of days later we are hearing words like “chemotherapy” and “porta-cath” and “leukemia.” A fun day of skiing ended with my husband being pulled down the mountain in a sled by the ski patrol – his broken leg required weeks of recovery. I endured “the Mystery Virus From Hell” that pretty much knocked me out of commission for 6 weeks. Our beloved dog had to be put down just before Christmas.
There’s more – but I'm sure you didn’t come here to read a whine list.
To say I am glad to see 2016 roll off into history is an understatement.
AND YET – There have been some pretty amazing blessings.
We took a cruise with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law to Alaska. Watching whales break the surface of the water, seeing the ice-blue glaciers, riding a train through the wilderness of the Yukon territory – all of the sights and sounds and experiences of the cruise and excursions were great. But being able to see my mom and dad enjoy those things magnified the joy of the experience exponentially!
A new grandson arrived in October! Kemp is the “Little Brother” for everyone, and we look forward to watching him grow. I believe that babies are living proof that God intends for the human race to continue.
We’ve enjoyed the pleasures of friendship. As I worked on planning a high school class reunion that’s been too long in coming, I re-connected with several “old” friends. “Old” in the sense that we’ve known each other most of our lives, not that we are getting “old” or anything like that! I have been particularly happy to re-connect with a pal from elementary school, and I’m looking forward to our continuing adventures together in the coming years. Our “Ohio Crew” came South this summer for some fun in the sun; we’ve returned the visit a time or two. We can go months without seeing each other, yet pick right up where we left off and continue on in friendship. Then there are our local friends and neighbors. Smiles and waves when we see each other, phone calls to chat a bit, making plans to see a movie together – all of these little things make me feel like I am where I belong. Whether meeting for dinner at The Retreat, dressing up for High Tea at Laura’s Tea Room, gathering for music and barbeque in our basement, or joining up every day for a brisk walk – we are blessed to have a circle of people who help make our lives more enjoyable, more colorful, more fun. And these friends stepped up to the plate when we needed them. Just one example: When David broke his leg, our friend helped him back to the house, made him as comfortable as possible, saw to it that he was able to get back home ok, and stayed in touch during his recuperation. OK, another example – when we had to have Scarlett euthanized, we got several sympathy cards, phone calls, and two friends even stopped by for a quick “tight hug and tears visit” on their way to work. Our friends knew she was a family member, and cared enough to reach out to us while we were mourning.
Our friends have laughed and cried with us. They’ve shared our joys, lifted our family in prayers, helped to support our dreams, given us sage advice and counsel. They’ve helped us make it through the year.
Hurricane Matthew blew through and we held our collective breaths as he seemed to take aim at a section of Carolina sand that we hold dear. Fortunately for us, there was minimal damage to the beach house – and once again we realized the blessings of having such a place where we can enjoy making memories.
Our home is still My Favorite Place; I love that it is large enough to house a family reunion, yet I love the peace it offers when I’m home alone. I have a gorgeous view to appreciate every single morning; David has captured many photographs of eagles, egrets, turtles, hawks – just outside in Creation.
So as this year of 2016 grinds on into eternity tonight, I’ll say good-bye to the tough parts for sure.
I’ll light a candle and send off a message of farewell to our girl Scarlett.
Then I’ll light another candle in gratitude for all the blessings we’ve received.
Lastly, I’ll light a third candle as I offer up my hopes and dreams for a better, brighter 2017.