New Year’s Eve 2009

by

     New year’s eve, the day I throw away the trash collected in the pockets of last year, and admire the shiny treasures worth keeping.  At midnight, I start new, donning stiff jeans, starched shirt, a strong leather belt, no holes in my socks and the brim of my hat will point forward to 2010.

      I’ve lost some dear friends this year.  Vicki, was fifty. She died of pneumonia.  No one dies from pneumonia anymore, well, maybe old people with compromised health, but not someone just reaching her stride.  Vicki hadn’t walked the outer banks enough.  She was the most honest person I ever knew. She fought for the independence and rights of old folks, offered marital counseling, sticks of gum, and recipes as she cut and styled hair.  She called me when I was sick and paid for a pedicure and massage for me when my grandma died.  She understood my loss and comforted me with touch.  My only solace in losing her, is knowing Vicki was welcomed into heaven by her own Grandmother’s arms.

     Sailing ships, seed catalogues, rooting my Grandma’s French lilac, pruning perennials, plowing the earth, counting inches of rainfall, hugging away hurts and cherry cigar smoke rings are all things that speak to me of Granddad Thomas.  He lived next door and I knew his kindness for forty-eight years. He was almost ninety when he died.  Ryan and I were with him when the rescue squad came. His spirit left him on a clear, dark, November night. I think it slipped quietly from his body and then exited his house through a crack in the window. He is sailing among the constellations now, dipping his net for the stars that are his children David and Judy and his Granddaughter, Monica. He will pull them up into his boat, and the four of them will sail on, waiting for Grammie.

      My step brother, Randy, died December 4.  I met him when I was 21, at my father’s third wedding.  He was four years older than me and already had a wife and two boys who were seven and five.  He laughed hard and often.  He lived life large, smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and downed his struggles with cases of Budweiser. His daring always skimmed the surface of foolish, like he understood he’d leave the game at half-time.  Off shore oil rigs let him smell the salt air, feel the power of God’s hands in the crashing waves and glimpse the brushstrokes of uninterrupted sunrises in the Gulf.   He made the trip to Virginia in September to gift us with a tight squeeze and one last look into his blue eyes.  He didn’t tell anyone, but he knew.

     I have plans for the new year.  Some will work out.  If I write them down, they’ll feel more real to me, but in feeling real, I have to own them.  I’m not sure I’m ready to do that yet.  It’s only 2:18 on New Year’s Eve. I’m warm and comfortable in my patched and faded jeans of 2009. My soft sweatshirt has a hole in the elbow and a vegetable soup stain running down its front, my belt is cinched just right and my big toe peeks out of my sock.  I lost my hat to the wind in June.  I still have almost ten hours to sort through what is left of this year, to revel in its comfort and decide what I keep, what I toss, and what I add to my new pockets for 2010.  
    
  The countdown has begun. Why do we hear the ticking so clearly on Dec. 31st and not so much the rest of the year?
     Happy New Year.

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2 Responses to “New Year’s Eve 2009”

  1. Gaboo Says:

    Thanks for the pause… and the reflection. 😉

  2. Becky Says:

    Nice words.

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