To borrow a phrase from my TV friends in Midsomer, I am delighted to see the back of 2017. Really. This past year has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows that has left me (us, really) exhausted. From the wonderful get-away to South Carolina to my loving wife’s terrible health problems; from visits with our great-grandchildren to our daughter’s health problems; from increased time with two beloved people at our meeting place in Mercer to the final demise of an old and loved car (and its replacement with a lump), there has been no smooth, carefree time all year.
It seems nothing, even the simplest, most straight forward of events had their twists and turns. I underwent cataract surgery in both eyes – one of the most common procedures for people of my age. Only I had an allergic reaction to the medicine (drops) they use to heal the eyes, and spent inordinate time clearing the allergy. I got a good deal on glasses (I still need them for reading) and got free no-line bifocals. Except I’ve never had the “no-line” lenses before and over a month later the blur between clear top and prescription bottoms is driving me crazy. I use the glasses as seldom as possible be cause that annoying blur actually makes me nauseous and effects my balance.
My wife was especially strained last year. She’s had extensive trouble getting some medications balanced – by trial and error – and is only now beginning to see an improvement in her comfort levels. Our daughter, whom she is especially close with had problems earlier, and has just recently moved out of our area. Marge has lost her best friend, and that combined with these other problems has left her depressed and needing a fresh start, of sorts. I call it reinventing one’s self, and she is definitely in need of it.
I, myself, find even familiar things backfired in 2017. The Erie weather is something I’ve long defended and loved about my home. But with my job (delivering prescriptions) I find that the beautiful white scenery of this last winter blast has me slogging through snow up to my ample butt, up steps left icy and clogged, and even kicking mounds of snow away from doors so that customers can get their doors open to sign for their deliveries.
And finally, I’ve been burning to write several blogs on subjects that I have had to re-think and set aside because what effects me also effects others, and sometimes violates their right to privacy. As the months dragged on in the midst of all of these travails, I’ve scrapped at least four urgent posts because I had no right to disclose other peoples’ misfortunes. Even now I’m anxiously awaiting news that my dear daughter-in-law has finally fully recovered from a delicate surgery. It’s not my place to write about it, other than to send her all the love and prayers I can and let her know I’m pulling for her.
So, the question remains: will the new year really be “new”, or more of the same? There’s no way to truly know, but with all the ups and downs, and twists on the expected, I don’t see how 2018 could possibly be an extension of the 2017 course. We didn’t even play a Kflembeauski Cup tourney last year, and that can’t be tolerated. Oddly, I usually mark the years from my birthday (in August) and it’s sometimes hard to think of January 1st as an end to the old and a beginning of the new. But this year I can’t wait to start afresh!
Every now and again things start to get to me (and yes, I realize that this is the understatement of at least this new century). I mean there are times when Murphy’s Law seem to target me and can be oppressive. I probably shouldn’t, but to better explain my line of thought I will list a few of the highlights:
My car is 14 years old, and has served me well for all but the last 2 or 3 years. After about $6,000 in repairs over the last couple, I find I no longer have the money or the patience to pour into it. Currently I’ve been told it needs a head gasket (an item which I was once able to replace myself, but with computerized engines and electronic sensors everywhere, I couldn’t begin to try.) The shop man cheerfully informed me that the “book” says it’s a 12-hour job to begin with (at $75-per-hour) and that if the cylinder head is warped we could be talking $3000 before it’s finished. As a result, the car is splashing oil into the cylinders, burning a quart of oil every 50-60 miles. This makes the plugs foul, causing the engine to sputter and miss like crazy.
Well, in my usual meek and mild way I threw a tantrum 2 weeks ago that I was sure would lead me to at least the third or fourth ring of hell, depending on exactly how personally my Maker took my rants – directed at Him, of course. To my utter shock, after running so rough I thought the car was on it’s way to the crusher, it suddenly started to IMPROVE. First, the frantic flashing of the “Service Engine Soon” light slowed and eventually stopped. The car ran smoother and smoother, until about 4 days ago the light went out! Now unless it’s possible for cars to HEAL over time, I was flabbergasted. It actually spooked me.
The light is back, now, but only sporadically; and the car is still running rather smoothly. To this frustrating string of events, add the weather that has accompanied my new job (delivering prescriptions for a local pharmacy). I’ve delivered in sub-zero wind chills, in white-out storms, in driving rains, and due to the timing of the job (1:00 until done) it is largely done by driving through school zones and behind school busses that stop every six-and-a-half feet. Plus: My lovely wife has been dogged by some of the worst arthritis complications I’ve ever seen and I can’t do ANYTHING to help her or lessen her pain. Frankly, I desperately needed a respite.
And this afternoon it came out of the blue: Carole and Dale asked if we’d like company on Thursday! You have to understand this relationship to understand how welcome this is: Carole is my wife’s cousin, and they’ve been close since childhood. Dale is her constant companion (now that he’s retired) and one of the most unassuming, most pleasant guys to be around that I’ve ever met. When we see them (a 2-hour drive that is rarely compatible with our schedules) it’s like we just left them yesterday. Conversations center on family and recent activities, and they seem instantly to understand and contribute to any personal goal or achievement. There are no pretexts, “airs”, or judgements here, just close friendship.
So, while the “miracle of the car” was nice while it lasted, the real relief will be to completely forget car, job, arthritis, and even my eventual “reward” for that outburst at the Big Guy. For an afternoon we’ll just enjoy the company and celebrate these two people, and that is, in the final analysis, the real importance of life: People.