I don’t do resolutions and I don’t make promises about the future. If nothing else has been learned, I know I can’t predict how life will go, cannot make pledges based on uncertain destiny.
That being said, this is the time of year for summing up before moving on. When I read the columns about all celebrities who’ve died in the past 12 months, there are always a few surprises. Some I thought were already dead. I do a mental countdown. How many remain from the golden age of movies? Not many.
I pat myself on the back. I’m here!
I take encouragement from surviving legends. Exhibit A: Vin Scully, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who will begin his 66th year calling Dodger baseball games in 2015. I’m old enough to remember Scully calling games his first year, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. One of the highlights of the past year was catching my favorite sportscaster doing Dodger games on the Baseball Network. He is a rarity now, a wordsmith amidst a contemporary gaggle of illiterate sports yakkers and screamers. Thanks, Vin, for making me smile during the long, depressing baseball season in Red Sox nation.
Does Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” apply to 2014? On first glance, I would think not. On second look maybe it does.
The early part of the year should be titled “High Anxiety”. Marilyn, who always had a heart murmur, discovered she had a much larger heart problem. Her ticker wasn’t ticking correctly. After several exams and consults, Marilyn was told she needed heart valve surgery. It was supposed to be simple, maybe a repair rather than a replacement.
It was very far from simple.
Five procedures later, Marilyn had a new heart valve and a pacemaker — among other things. All of this was supposed to improve Marilyn’s quality of life. The jury is still out and probably depends on ones definition of “improved.”
I remind her — and she reminds me — and then herself — that at least she has a life, which is arguably an improvement over the likely alternative. The doctors keep changing the timetable on Marilyn’s recovery. Mostly they tell her she looks fine. I’m not sure Marilyn agrees.
Fast forward a few months. As the Red Sox were slowly sinking into last place, we discovered we had a very big and far more real problem.
Water. The stuff of life. Agua. H20. Long story short, our well died! What to do? Marilyn checked how much it would cost to fix the well. She did some quick math. Then, she did some slower math. Then did the whole thing again.
We were dead in the water. Oops!
Lacking rich relatives to bail us out and being the people others usually came to for help, we looked in the mirror. Our reflections didn’t pony up any cash. Marilyn came up with an obvious, but painful, answer.
We would have to ask for help. It stuck in my craw. Humiliating. But there was no other option. We reached out, expecting nothing, hoping for a something. Dark days indeed.
Marilyn, as usual, took control , if you could call it control. She stayed on top of the contractors while fending off her own anxiety about the desperation of our situation. You can do without a lot of things, but not without water.
And then … people responded. Friends we hadn’t heard from in years, people who we knew only as commentors on Serendipity. It was a shock … and for once, a pleasant and welcome shock.
Friends and strangers alike displayed an overwhelming generosity. We were able to have the contractors come and rebuild the well, a real life version of the finale of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” At the end of one of the longest crises in our history, we have water. Clean, cold, water. The siege is over and with a little luck, over forever.
I’m still stunned at the kindness and generosity of everyone who responded to our plight, a powerful reminder to be grateful during this holiday season … and every other season.
So, maybe Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” does, after all, apply to 2014.
Excellent things can arrive in very peculiar packages.