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Highs and Lows- of a year almost gone.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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Highs and Lows- of a year almost gone....

In about 13 hours, another calendar year of my life is consigned to history. (Major obscure-lyric points to anyone who can source that line- I'm betting on one of you:)  The bad and ugly have taken up much of the past several weeks, and while there was plenty to go around of each before November 8th, the year's had some good moments, monumental moments, transitional moments that at least deserve some bullet points.

On second thought, given how busy DEATH has been and continues to be even this week (stay away from Betty White, yo:P), I think I'll go with just asterisks.

* Firsts and Foremosts.

In more-or-less order: I got to see Springsteen for the first time in my life; attended my first Mets home opener; resolved my biggest case of the year (and in years); shepherded another refi of our home that went somewhat more smoothly than the previous one; walked into the Valley of the Shadow of Death that is Yankee Stadium for the first time ever, immediately before that took a journey 35 years into my past which led to a nice exchange of correspondence with Harry Chapin's daughter; attended my first TED talks, left town overnight with Eleanor for the first time in ages to see RENT from essentially the front row; got to hear the first of several Distinguished Speakers at UB including, three Fridays ago, my first-ever live taste of Albatross!; and, just over two weeks ago, bought my first new-and-for-me car in over 20 years.

That's a lot to put in the ol' bucket.  In between, 2016 brought us a lot of laughs, if with more than the usual amount of stress, but in the end, as it ends, it brings us what a certain Princess just reminded us:

What Is It They've Sent Us? Hope.

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* Ends.

Ah, those words came from a Princess who was played by an actress who was taken from us just this week- with her own mother following a day later, and with such a progression of talent and goodness before that.  You know of them all, and your reactions to them all- wiki "2016 deaths" if you need reminders- but for us, the two of greatest significance are ones that did not make the papers or cause the interwebs to explode.

In mid-April, just shy of his 17th birthday, we said farewell to our oldest kitty.  Tazzer had been failing for weeks, becoming increasingly hard to care for, and with no reasonable prospect of his having a quiet normal life without major investigation and intervention.  Once the decision was made, it went quickly; the remaining three are doing well, and as two of the three turned 14 this year, we pray there will be no such calls to be made for some time.

Right after we cleaned up the house after his passing, God took another smiting shot in our general direction: Two days later, our dear neighbor Betty found out that a tumor, previously diagnosed as benign, was not. Several weeks of chemo and discomfort followed before she and the system, in some combination, made the choice to stop fighting it. She passed this fall, and we've become close with her closest relative- a niece- who is tasked with sorting everything out, both physically and legally. (Turns out I know the lawyers Betty used for her estate issues- they work in my old office and Shelly's known one of them since high school.)  We're continuing to do everything we can to help her, and them, in getting her estate settled and the house maintained until it can go, we pray, to the right people at the right time.

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* Transitions.

Biggest here were in our faiths.  Eleanor began and has moved on in a complete transition from traditional liberal Protestant Christianity to a practice of Buddhism that she's finding meaningful and helpful.  I haven't gone there, or really anywhere, other than to finally and formally end one of my ties to the official structure of Methodism that I've now picked up and dropped twice in my life.  The closest thing to religious experience I have these days is Dog Church- a tongue-in-cheek reference to several of us who value Dog over God on Sunday mornings and let them romp and butt-sniff in a county park set aside just for them.

Our family is also finding new boundaries.  Emily has begun getting help with the two things that we learned were causing her (and Cam) the most consternation in their lives; one of those was tied to my car purchase, because that freed up my older, paid-for car for her to use in hopes of finding a better work situation.  They're also joining us in the effort to make the Big Holidays less of a trigger for emotional stuff coming out.

On the bigger level, of course, a transition was formalized on Election Night that had been slowly creeping up throughout the year(s) before, leading to an influential minority of voters handing unlimited power and nuclear codes to the most unqualified candidate I have ever seen stand for any office. I listen to the calls for resistance; they largely sound futile.  I will just continue to be as kind to as many people as I can in as many ways as I can, and use my words, my funds and when necessary my license to help them.  I will also continue to talk about a grass-roots effort in this state that will come to a vote next November, to reform the dysfunction that has turned Albany into an even bigger swamp in need of draining than D.C. ever was.  If that vote succeeds, there will be more to talk about, and more for me to get actively involved in, as we head into 2018.

Hopefully with fewer deaths. And hopefully ending on an up note next December, with Carrie Fisher's final screen performance giving us all we need of that one word we associate so much with her.

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