Family, Friendship, Miscellaneous

Memories of 2019

I’ve gone through a little exercise, the past several New Year’s Eves, to try to sum up the year that’s passing in twelve words, one for each month. Herewith, my roundup for 2019: Softness, Family, Broken, Celebration, Construction, Sickness, Renovation, Compromise, Stabilization, Justice, Insurance, Acceptance.

In no particular order: Item: Two dear friends with life-threatening illnesses, both diagnosed in the same month. Both my age. Scary. Item–A lovely new sunroom on the Southside of the house (some days, when it’s in the 20s outside, it’s in the 80s in the sunroom. There’s a stand of trees in front of it, and when they’re in full leaf, rather than bare as they are now, it’s shaded in the summer. Item: Some beautiful soft and fluffy snows in January, but other than that, not much of a winter. Item: A bit too much involvement with the criminal justice system, across a couple of months, but ultimately the best outcome we could have hoped for in the trial of my stepson’s murderers. Item: Family celebrations, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and love. Another year older, and signed up for Medicare. At least my monthly health insurance premium went down.

Item: A few relationship difficulties, and the eventual resolution and coming to terms with them. Item–A gradual settling and stabilizing of the house, following the undermining, and after a year, the feeling that it might be “safe” to start to remediate some of the problems. So far, so good, and I have an opening front door again! Item–A monumental, weeks-long, blow-up with Mr. She’s Medicare Advantage insurer, who canceled his coverage because they said we hadn’t paid the bill. (Big mistake. Huge.) The week after I got a letter from the office of the Highmark CEO, acknowledging their error, and making all sorts of prayerful amends, I switched Mr. She’s insurance over to UPMC and canceled Highmark. A petty, but sweet, revenge. Item: the completion of bits of drywalling and painting that I’ve been waiting for, for 34 years, upstairs; and the finishing of the stairwell, including the framing in and “prettifying” of the electrical panel. Unfortunately, at the same time, the guy who was putting a new deck on the back of the house (see “remediation of subsidence problems,” above) ruptured a tendon in his finger, so that project is on indefinite hiatus. Still, I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, and starting to conceive of the possibility that the house may be finished before I am carried out of it feet first. This is a new feeling, and I like it.

I think that about wraps things up, and on a positive note. (The finishing of the house, I mean, not the “feet first” business.)

If I could add a thirteenth word, for a baker’s dozen this year, I’d make it “fellowship.” In three different months, throughout the year, I met three new IRL Ricochet friends (five if you count two spouses), on their travels through my part of the world. Wonderful times, wonderful friends. And I’m already making plans to see some of them again next year. And perhaps I will meet more in 2020. You know what they say, “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.” Here’s to new friends!

It was a bittersweet year. In many ways, I’m glad it’s over. In others, not so much. Joys and sorrows; welcome reminders of just how precious life is; unwelcome reminders of just how precious life is, and how things can change from “doing great” to “not well” health-wise, in the blink of an eye; no weddings or births, and only one, expected, funeral. Highs and lows. New friends added and old friends lost. A beautiful granddaughter who, only a short few months ago (I’m pretty sure) was about three, and now, somehow, she’s almost twelve. (How on earth does that work?) Good health for me; some challenges for Mr. She. A fairly quiet year, in most ways, and not even a particularly memorable one.

And so, heading into 2020, here we still are. As they say, “we persevere.” (Mainly, I think it’s inertia, and just the fact that we haven’t come up with a better plan yet.)

Since May 2, 2002 the phrase “things couldn’t possibly get any worse” has never passed my lips, because, clearly, things always can (and they usually do); but I have high hopes for 2020. (“Shame on me,” to cut to the chase on a familiar saying.) We’ll see. Nevertheless, I extend those same high hopes and my prayers for a safe, healthy, and happy 2020 to my Ricochet friends. And I’m grateful for you all.

Please share your own dozen (or fewer, or more) words that describe your memories of this past year. I realize that mine are very personal: Yours may be cultural, political, polemical, or any combination of all, or none, of the above. All contributions are welcome. Happy New Year, Ricochet!

Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
For us all who are gathered here
And a happy new year to all that is living
To all that is gentle, kind, and forgiving
Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
My dear acquaintance, a Happy New Year

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