Monday, January 1, 2018

Farewell 2017

Christmas is now over, and Happy New Year is in order.  

Carl is asleep in his Lazy Boy next to me, gently snoring.  When the furnace isn't running (which isn't often as we're below zero) the house is so quiet I can hear the melancholy sound of needles bouncing off the hardwood floor from the rapidly drying Christmas tree.  I water the tree every morning without fail but the tree is tired.

And yes, we still have the 1978 orange vinyl floor.
I love the anticipation of the holidays much more than the end result, almost the same way I feel about lilies in bud in the summer; once the petals have unfurled, it is only a matter of time before the bloom fades.  

My heart always hurts a little when I see Christmas trees tossed out on the curb in town a day or two after the holiday.  They seem so forlorn.  There I go, imbuing inanimate objects with feelings again, a bad habit of mine.  Just ask my sons about my silliness when I never could read the book 'The Velveteen Rabbit' without crying.  

I thought as I grew older, I'd become less emotional, but the opposite seems to be true, especially this year, our first Christmas without Mom.  All in all, I did fairly well without succumbing to the holiday blues.  With our schedule jam-packed with estate and nursing home visits for the last few months, house cleaning had to be done at a breakneck pace in the two days leading up the holiday which took my mind off Mom's loss.  

I debated saying something in Mom's memory at our Christmas Day supper table gathering when Joel, Abby, Audrey, David, Emily and Ann were here, but I knew I'd never be able to get the words out, so I clumsily settled on passing the food and said a silent prayer of my own.  

Still, the emotions do come out in the darndest places.  Case in point; Carl and I went to pay the property taxes at our local town hall on Friday.  I plunked myself down in the chair next to the computer as the town clerk patiently added up my bill, making sure my figures came out.  

Though I did not know the lady, when she handed me the receipt,  I suddenly found myself blurting out that my mother had died and how different it was this year and before I knew it, the tears were flowing despite my best efforts to stem them.  To the clerk's credit, she sat there and nodded sympathetically, she was sorry for my loss.  I felt very silly and apologized as we soggily made our way out the door.  I had no intentions of going on like that, but I did anyway. 

We're in the deep freeze now, but I can't say I really mind the weather all that much.  I'm still cross-country skiing whenever I can, even though I have to stick to the back side of the pine trees in the Eight as they make an excellent windbreak.  The fresh air does wonders for my spirits if not for my waistline.  I made far too many Christmas goodies again this year and have to counteract the expansion of my dimensions the best I can.  I gave away better than three-quarters of what I'd made, but there's still enough calories around here to keep an army marching.  Next year I'll do better.  (I know, I always say that.)

 Looking back on 2017, I find it to be almost a blur or distant bad dream.  So much time early in the year was spent in doctor's offices, emergency rooms, and hospitals with all three of our elderly parents, sometimes two in one day.  Then hospice arrived for my mother and in February she moved in with us until her passing in April.  Carl's folks managed more or less on their own until their crisis in November and since then, things have calmed down a little, but not much.  

I'm still dealing with Lyme disease (and who knows what will be the next thing) with possible eyesight issues worsening and unknown other ailments on the horizon, but hey, I finally made a doctor's appointment to check things out which for me, is the half the battle.   And yes, I know, worry does no good.  I know I'm not alone; everyone is dealing with something they'd rather not have to deal with, it's just the way it is.  

If 2017 taught me anything (and I'm a notoriously dim-witted woman) it's the art of grieving and consoling the suffering.  After going through two funerals this past year, I so appreciated the support from family and friends and it made me reevaluate my comforting skills when other people are in crisis.  

The following article by author Elana Premack Sandler was a huge help to me:  The Ring Theory Helps Us Bring Comfort In

 So many people brought the comfort in for me this past year, and I am deeply humbled and grateful.  I only hope I can repay the favors shown to me in truly helpful ways in the coming year.  

2017 also has made me face the fact I'm not getting any younger. Mom used to say, "You're just a kid yet," and true, she was right given our thirty-eight year age gap, but I'm teetering on the brink of my sixth decade and let's face it, my bud has opened and my petals are getting more faded by the day.  A dear friend of mine sent me this essay, I'm not sure who originally wrote it but it is entitled:  

And Then It Was Winter
 You know. . . Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.
It seems just yesterday I was young, just married and embarking on my new life.  Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.  I know I lived them all.  I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. 

But, here it is... The winter of my life and it catches me by surprise... How did I get here so fast?  Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking those older people were years away from me and winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is... my friends are retired and getting grey - or they’re gone.  They move slower and I see an older person now.

Some are in better and some worse shape than me... but, I see the great change... They’re not like  the ones I remember who were young and vibrant... but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks we used to see and never thought we'd be.

Each day now, I find just getting a shower is a real target for the day!  And taking a nap is not a treat anymore... it's mandatory!  'Cause if I don't on my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so... now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things I wish I had done, but never did!

But, at least I know, although winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last... this I know—  when it's over on this earth... it's NOT over.  A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets.  There are things I wish I hadn't done.. things I should have done; but, indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done.  It's all in a lifetime.

So, if you're not in your winter yet... let me remind you, it will be here faster than you think.

So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly!  Don't put things off too long!  Life goes by quickly.  So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! 

You have no promise you will see all the seasons of your life... so, live for today and say all the things you want your loved ones to remember.. and hope they appreciate and love you for all the things you have done for them in all the years past!

"Life" is a gift to you.  The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.  Make it a fantastic one.


REMEMBER:.. "Health is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.





 My wish for 2018 is that we will all live each moment we're blessed to receive and live them well.  

Here's to a Happy and Healthy New Year!  

(And yes, I'll have to start taking those lights down in a few weeks.  Wish me luck.)


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Oh dearest Karen ~ what a heartfelt post about 2017. Much to contemplate.

Grief does hit us when we least expect it. Just let the tears flow, they are healing and God is bottling them all up. One day all tears will be wiped away.

Thanks for the article on 'Then it was Winter'. I am in the winter of my life and I want to be grateful for each and every day. I want to trust God more, knowing He is my strength when I am weak. I want to trust that He has a plan for me, for good & His honor & glory.

An interesting article about the Ring Theory. One to remember.

When I was a fresh widow, I was shown these verses from the Bible, about comfort, found in 2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4 ~
3-Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
4-who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Those verses really touched my heart and have helped me to comfort others going through their own trials and troubles. We all have them, we all need empathy for others. Doing for others helps lift us out of our own grieving and circumstances.

I enjoyed your photos of Christmas there at Quarry Gardens. To me it is always 'sad' when the lights come down. They are the first thing that go up each year after the tree(s), and the last to come down. The colors & the sparkle just touch me in ways I can't explain.

May you and Carl be blessed with a wonderful 2018.

Love you bunches ~ FlowerLady

Alison said...

I wish good health and happiness and a much less frantic and grief-stricken year for you and Carl in 2018 and beyond. I need to do better this year about taking care of my own health -- too many meals out at restaurants, and too many cookies.

Karen said...

Dear Rainey, thank you so much, you are such a comfort to me. I am sending you hugs and warm wishes for a Happy New Year. Thank you for all your support. :-)

Karen said...

Dear Alison, oh, yes, I know exactly what you mean about taking better care of ourselves. Thank you for your good wishes for the coming year; I'm sending the same back to you! We can do this. :-)

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Oh dear, you will be busy dismantling all those lights and decorations! But they look amazing and surely brightened the lives of everyone who saw them. I'm sorry for your struggles--I hope that 2018 will be a joy-filled year for you. Blessings to you and yours!

Ellie's friend from canada said...

Hi Karen,

I'm not sure what happened to the message I posted but I would just like to wish you a Happy, Peaceful New Year. Ann

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Sending you good wishes for the new year and I hope it is a much more peaceful and happy year for you and Carl. Loved seeing your stain glass lamps!

chavliness said...

Treat yourself well, live in the moment, make every day count. All good blessings for the new year. I don't love snow, but being outdoors is the best remedy I know to drive the darkness out. Nature just pulls me in and lifts me up. I heartily recommend stretching for your back: it save me from pain, and if I slack a bit, I notice it right away.
I hope 2018 will be good to you and all your loved ones.

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Pam's English Garden said...

Today I finished taking the decorations down. The tree is standing bare in the den waiting to be carried outside. I will decorate it with nuts and cranberries for the birds. That way, I don't feel so bad about taking down the lights. I hope 2018 is better for you, Karen. I know the year after my mother passed was more peaceful for me. Wishing you good health and much happiness, my friend. P. x

outlawgardener said...

May 2018 be a much better year for you! Your Christmas light show was glorious but I don't envy your having to take them all down. It's much more fun to put it all up. While your petals may be getting more faded by the day, it's a good thing that you still have beautiful foliage! Love all the shots of your lamp. You are so talented!