It’s odd – that effort of trying to keep quiet while someone is sleeping that results in being more disruptive than if you had made the usual noise – and you woke the sleeper. The effort counts, you tell yourself; at least you tried. Much like the effort of the gardener who tries to keep the garden alive during oppressive heatwaves, drought, desiccating winds – and then through drenching, flooding rains that wash away protective layers of mulch and top soil, and flatten plants. And this week – extreme cold and snow. The efforts count, you tell yourself; at least you tried. From my dad, I learned to always “look on the bright side.” “It’s not that bad”, he would say, “it always gets better”. I felt guilty being less than happy around him, so I kept worry and concerns to myself. In truth, I’m relieved he is no longer here to see these rapid, dramatic changes our world is experiencing. Changes in our climate, our weather, our national deterioration, our profound mean-spiritedness and selfishness. I don’t know if I could have maintained the façade of “Everything’s great, Dad” that he required.
But as I review this year, I would have told him, in honesty, that for me and my family each year is better than the last. This year, 2021, has ended beautifully – my son recovered from COVID and, eventually, Long-COVID with no problems. Bill and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and were able to travel – not the celebratory trip we had planned but just as meaningful and fun. Our friends are well – healthy and happy. My young nephew made a dramatic and very impressive recovery from a series of serious strokes in 2020, and was able to return to his work late this year. We are looking ahead to near-future trips to the UK in 2022. Although my planned trip to Egypt and Jordan in January 2021 was cancelled, I will try for January 2023. We were able to take some long hiking trips and many day-hikes that revived the spirit. In the forest I tend, the young sequoia grove survived our heat waves and drought well (at least they appear healthy at this writing), and I only lost one young Doug Fir. In our home garden, two plants died during the Heat Dome events but the rest of the garden seems to have weathered that storm intact.
Weather the Storm – that expression succinctly describes my and my family’s life since July 2014. The years since that awful month contained, in some respects, more trauma and heartbreak than we have experienced at any time in the past. That we have come through those years intact, stronger, and happier than I thought possible is a testament to our dedication and love for each other. As chaotic and disturbing as daily life in this era often is, the intermissions of enjoyment, laughter and joy are just as memorable. Or, maybe, I just choose to focus on the joy – after all, daily life can “turn on a dime”, as my dad used to say. So, it could be that he was correct. After all, our attitude really is the only aspect of life we control. How we respond, what and whom we choose to give our attention to, how we choose to view life – that’s under our control.
So, it seems he was right – Everything’s great, Dad.
I wish the same for you and those you love.