Today I am sixty-four years old. This sixty-fourth year has been one of great contrast to the previous one, and itself has had some ups and downs, but mostly it has been a wonderful twelve months.
Last year at this time I was almost a year into some of the deepest despair I have ever known. I was anticipating several years of trying to salvage some kind of meaning for my life, but I was struggling. After forty years of a good marriage, its tragic ending left me despondent and lonely. I had retired from a forty-one year career in education and didn’t even have the desire to go back to the classroom. Both of my parents, my best advisors always, also passed away in 2013. I’m not one to seek help—I’d rather give it—even though I have some wonderfully wise friends. Despite good people in my life, things were bleak.
Just before Christmas, and my 63rd birthday, I returned to the mountains and went skiing again after a twenty-two year hiatus. It was exhilarating. I’d started writing again, too, that fall and, with the urging of a good friend and some serendipitous meetings with others, published my first book.
I was writing and skiing and doing other traveling. I decided to purchase a second home at my favorite ski resort and started making plans to spend much more time in the mountains throughout the year. About the same time, I met a woman who immediately brought me great joy and love. By the middle of the year, I felt as if I’d been reborn. What incredible gifts life has given me!
In September I hit a minor bump. My annual physical showed that I was quite healthy (Up) except for some disturbing blood work (Down). A few more tests revealed that I have very early onset (Up) prostate cancer (Down). Up. Down. Up again. I don’t have to face anything alone.
My younger son took advantage of Dad’s condo to propose to his girlfriend. I’m about to have two marvelous daughters-in-law and another precocious granddaughter to go with two fine grandsons and their little sister. My lady’s family adds three beautiful daughters I gladly claim as my own along with their fine husbands and six more wonderful grandkids.
After several visits to my/our mountain home throughout the summer and fall, we were there for opening day of the ski season and reveled in beautiful snowfall. Several members of both our families have had the opportunity to also enjoy “our mountain” already. I’m headed back right after New Year’s Day.
The annual celebration of my birth began yesterday afternoon with a gathering of children and grandchildren, and a grand time was had by all. This blending of families is an amazing thing to watch. What incredible love we share even as we get to know one another.
I woke this morning with the love of a beautiful woman and the promise of many happy years together. I am fortunate that I am able to look forward to her companionship. Our pasts are the foundations on which we are building our future together. Nothing is forgotten. All is accepted and cherished or understood. Tomorrow is only less important than today.
I’ve been to the gym today and had a good workout, spent some time reading birthday wishes from friends and family from Maine to Alaska, including unexpected cards of well-wishes from friends with whom I’d lost touch, and anticipate a warm and wonderful evening. In the coming days I’ll enjoy more time with my family and friends and make plans for more time together. Soon I’ll be back in the mountains. Every day is a new adventure. It’s all good. The coming year should be amazing.
This time next year I’ll be even younger than I am now and still be sixty-five!
I wish everyone the most joyous holiday season and more Ups than Downs in the coming year!