Well, that’s a wrap.
I can’t say twenty-nineteen was a showboat, exactly, though it did provide a few moments to remember:
It was the year I said goodbye to my book blog and bid the medieval society adieu . . .
. . . the year we dropped in on an open house or two, simply to peruse the library (one of which the realtor commented that the previous owners actually filled the shelves with books. Can you imagine? Mon dieu!) . . .
. . . the year we celebrated one whole year with a goofy pup named Cooper, who continues to fill our lives with love and laughter . . .
. . . the year we collected a few more memories with those we love most of all – in San Diego, in Sweden, and in our own backyard . . .
Of course, as twenty-nineteen sets, so sets another decade as well.
And the last ten years? Well, they’re a bit more showy.
The decade began with I’ve come to refer to as my “blue period.” You see, I lost my job right as the recession kicked in. While I’m lucky in the fact that I can freelance, I’m wretched when it comes to networking (thank God for referrals and word-of-mouth). Since it took me four years to find steady employment, those last two years were tough, to say the least.
Then, just to flaunt its versatility, the decade ended with me finding the one whom my soul loves, finally–after all these years, right when I felt certain it would never be.
In between the two extremes are countless bright spots filled with friends and family, good food and good conversation, love and laughter.
Sure, there were disappointments and heartache, too. That, my friends, is life. But it’s the everyday miracles that rise to the top.
With that in mind, I’m not as quick to jump into a new year as I usually am. Perhaps it’s my age, perhaps it’s the fact we’ve become much too accustomed to finding fault in the world, but I have an overwhelming urge to pause and say ‘thank you.’
Before I make plans, before I pen my hopes and dreams, I want to offer heartfelt gratitude to the one who saw fit to give me what I have.
Who knows? That may be the greatest celebration of all. For in doing so, I just might be better able to recognize my blessings, big and small, in the days and weeks, months and years to come.
No doubt we would have been preparing to celebrate Phoebe’s birthday this weekend. While the actual date of her birth fell on February 20, her calendar of festivities filled rather quickly. I imagine this year would have been especially so, being her one-hundredth celebration and all.
Alas, she bid her final farewell at ninety-nine. And for most of those ninety-nine years, we knew nary a thing of this girl from Riverside, California . . .
We knew her not when entered this world in 1918; when she graduated from Kuna High School in 1935; or when she attended Pioneer Business College in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1936 . . . when she worked in military communications during World War II; or when she married the love of her life in 1948 . . . when she lived in New York; or when she returned to Boise, into that grand old house on twenty-second street . . . when she worked for the tax commission; when she raised show dogs; when she traveled about, amassing one adventure after another.
No, we knew nary a thing of her until she joined the “old girls” at “the home.” By that time she’d be quick to shoo away a camera for fear it would make her look old; and she was more than ready to accept her boarding pass to the great beyond–to be reunited with those she loved most of all.
But unlike some who tire of this world, she rarely complained; instead, she chose to make the most of each day. And despite the years that layered one upon another, she continued to have a youthful gleam in her eye.
Perhaps its one of the things that made us fast friends.
Despite our age difference, we shared a love of laughter. We shared a love of clouds and the myriad of ways they dance upon the sky. We shared an understanding that the ache of some disappointments (never holding a baby of your own, for instance) never truly goes away; that you can (and most certainly should) make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt, but a twinge of pain continues to tug at your heart.
I imagine if we had been born in the same place, at the same time, we’d have been inseparable. Instead, she paved the way; she showed me how to grow old . . .
In the few short years we knew her, she taught us the importance of looking your best–even when you can no longer wear the shoes you love, or it takes hours to prepare; that wit remains timeless; that friends and family are your anchors–that you should hug, and say “I love you,” and accept those invitations for as long as you can; that age does not have to dim your spark.
Phoebe, brightest of women–she certainly, lived up to her name.
At her memorial service, her niece read aloud one of her favorite poems:
Life owes me nothing. Let the years
Bring cloud or azure, joy or tears;
Already a full cup I’ve qualified;
Already wept and loved and laughed.
And seen, in ever-endless ways,
New beauties overwhelm the days.
Life owes me nought. No pain that waits
Can steal the wealth from memory’s gates;
No aftermath of anguish slow
Can quench the soul fire’s early glow.
I breathe, exulting every breath,
Embracing Life, ignoring Death.
Life owes me nothing. One clear morn
Is boon enough for being born;
And be ninety or ten,
No need for me to question when.
While Life is mine, I’ll find it good.
And greet each hour with gratitude.
Words she obviously took to heart. And if her life is any indication, it would behoove us all to do the same.