Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring Out the Old!

"I don't know half of you half as well as I would like,
and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve!"
-- Bilbo Baggins, addressing guests at his eleventy-first birthday party.

As I write this, the year 2012 is less than four hours from over. The traditional steak and cheese sandwich has been eaten. The black-eyed peas are soaking for tomorrow's dinner, and we are in for a relaxed evening. It is time to reflect, look back, and remember. On the whole, 2012 was a good year. 

As mentioned previously, I almost met my objective of publishing one post per week to this blog.  It remains a reachable objective for the coming year.

After 30 years at the same address, we saw our way clear and remodeled the kitchen and two bathrooms.  The change is dramatic enough to make me wonder if I'm in the right house every time I come home.  There are still projects to do, but the big ones are done. We're enjoying our "new" house.

In 2012, we spent a weekend in Ocean City, MD with my high school classmates. While there, I woke up and said "I think I'll go para sailing!" and para sailing we went! It was indescribably wonderful -- the view, the far horizon, the silence. I was sorry when they reeled me in at the end of the ride.  Can't wait to do it again!

I also now find myself married to a bionic woman, as my wife had a hip replaced. During her recovery, I became Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (CCBW) and discovered I like it. More importantly, I also discovered that we are surrounded by a large community of friends and caring people. We are, among all people, most richly blessed.

In 2012, we said goodbye to friends, classmates, and more than one person who helped form my character and make me who I am. The world is diminished by their passing, yet they all remain alive in the memories of our hearts. Getting old means having to say goodbye.

We made two mission trips to the mountains of western North Carolina to repair houses, plant and harvest crops, and most importantly, to renew and add friendships.  Few things compare to the beauty of a crisp mountain morning.  And few compare to good feeling of tired after accomplishing a needed task.  

We visited New Orleans for the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's Annual Reunion where I learned from my flying buds that apparently I am writing a book. Stay tuned for more of that. Although forty or more years have passed since we were there, the Pink Panthers remain a unique unit.  Of the three kinds of people that flew helicopters in Vietnam, I am proud to have been one of those who were honored to be Pink Panthers.

If any year has a theme, 2012 is characterized by friendships. Friendship new, and friendship deepened.  Friendship renewed after half a century, and friendships budding over days, weeks, and months. The song that says "I get by with a little help from my friends" is wrong. I get by because of my friends.  And those friends include you.  Whether you come here regularly or just happen to stumble on to this blog, and it touches you, you are my friend.

In 2013, I resolve to become the kind of friend each of my friends would be proud to have.

Will you join me?