As I get older, I don’t make rigid resolutions, writing them down in a journal, but I do look back on the old year and all that’s happened, holding out hope for a fresh start, and the promise a new year holds.
It’s natural for me, this reflection, an all-encompassing annual look back compared to the minimal, but constant Monday commitments to eat better, get more exercise and tackle another character trait that makes me less than proud of myself, like complaining, mostly about trivial matters that don’t amount to a hill of beans.
I’d have to say that 2017 wasn’t the best of years —personally, it presented a huge loss for our extended family, a tragic accident that sent us reeling.
But the year held joy as well — getting to spend time with Gill, my British cousin, when we made a trip to England in September, tacking on a few days in Sicily with her and her husband Geoff and then wrapping up our vacation in Scotland.
It was a dream trip in lots of ways, and one I’ll repeat in part when I return to Europe in early April with our three adult daughters for a stay in England, then five days in Sicily, finishing up in Paris, where we’ll celebrate our daughter Jennifer’s birthday. This time around, Spark will stay at home, which will mean Jen will be driving in the U.K., a first for her, testing her skills on the “other side” of the road.
This much-anticipated vacation is all the more dear because of the unexpected death of our son-in-law Tim’s mother Judy, who was hit by a car while walking her dog in Ballwin. Judy, a vibrant and spiritual person who packed a lot into each day and gave back to others, passed away two weeks before Christmas. Judy volunteered with hospice, was 100 percent accepting of people from all walks of life, and in December was planning on finishing her degree from St. Louis Community College at Meramec. She was incredibly kind and never stopped learning and doing, hiking the Grand Canyon and parasailing, among other adventures.
In July, Judy went all out, took Tim and his sisters Michelle and Julie to her family’s country of origin — Croatia. Both of Judy’s parents were from there, and it had always been her dream to search out her roots, which the foursome did, discovering their ancestral home and meeting cousins they didn’t even know they had.
The last time I saw Judy she talked about the trip using “awesome” to describe the memories they’d made — awesome was Judy’s word and she said it with an enthusiastic emphasis on the first syllable so that the adjective became her trademark. In the kitchen that day, Tim and his mom agreed the trip “was the best thing we ever did.”
I already had our family’s vacation in the works, but really got pumped after hearing what a terrific time Judy and her kids enjoyed and how Croatia brought them even closer than they’d been before. After her untimely death, Tim reintegrated how important it was for me to go overseas with our girls, two of them never having been to England before.
We say it all the time, seize the day, cherish each moment, and we momentarily adhere, but then forget, falling back into bust-ling busyness. We hurry around adhering to have-tos, making them a priority rather than the people we love, rushing through our days without relishing the gift of time.
Judy practiced mindfulness and searched out the greater good — here’s hoping I can learn from her example, that her memory will burn bright in the coming years, and that she will help me walk a bit slower and appreciate what is.