So Long Last Year

I was hoping to write this last night as a year in review, but I was too tired. My wife looked at me and suggested I just go to bed. Don’t worry, she woke me up later to ring in the new year with a bang! But, let’s see what 2014 brought us.

There are always those year-end articles about the famous people we lost as a nation or world, and once again the tragic deaths of the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers did dominate the celebrity media. Yet, personally, it was my co-worker John and close friend Esteban whose deaths most affected me. John suffered a heart attack at the young age of fifty. Many employees at the store, myself included, thought of one particular word to describe John: genuine. There was never any pretense with John; he was up front and honest in all his interactions and he genuinely cared for people. If he asked you how you were, he really cared for the answer. It was not just small talk with John. Sadly, I couldn’t make it to his memorial service. Fortunately a fair amount of store employees were able to do so and give him a great send off. You see, John was famous for getting a Frisbee out of his truck after closing and talking employees into tossing it around the parking lot at night for a little while before going home. One of our managers brought a whole bunch of Frisbees to the memorial and they gave him a 21-gun salute with the Frisbees.

Esteban hit the entire household pretty hard. We’ve all known him for quite some time, whereas my family didn’t know John. Esteban lost his two-year plus battle with leukemia this summer. I need two words to adequately describe him: faithful and courageous. Esteban was studying to become a deacon in the Catholic Church when the cancer struck. He offered us a beautiful going away prayer when we moved from PA to VA. He really did keep Christ at the center of his life. He was courageous not only in how he combated his illness, but also due to the fact that he moved from Paraguay and all he was familiar with to the US…all alone. We had our leap of faith moving 400 miles away with two kids and no job lined up to live where I wanted to live, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the courage it takes to move to an entirely new country/continent. I will always admire him for that.

Of course, the kids have given me the fondest memories of the past year. Our 15-year-old got braces and strengthened her first real celebrity crush. Yeah, in years past she followed Zac Efron, then Sterling Knight. But neither of them held her fascination quite like Ross Lynch does now. One whole wall of her room is covered with pictures of Ross or his band, R5. Even the band pictures feature the young heart-throb prominently. In all fairness, he is the best-looking one. Makes me wish I were twenty years younger…and a woman.

My 11-year-old has lots of creative talents, but I was especially impressed with her developing cooking abilities in 2014. She loves visiting Taste Buds online to learn about food, cooking and recipes. Just last month, as I was cooking supper, she decided to make biscuits. With no help from anyone she got together the ingredients, mixed them, kneaded them, cut them, and put them in the oven for us to enjoy. She also baked a yellow cake on my birthday with no help from anyone except her mother, who simply put it in the oven for her. And she closed out the year by finding a meatloaf recipe online and making that with her mother – mommy did the dirty work as I’ve asked her not to mess with raw meat until she’s older. There’s a growing culinary program at our local community college; who knows if that will be in her future.

Our 5-year-old is attacking her school lessons with vigor. I am so proud of her in her academic discipline. I was a less-than-enthusiastic student, so I hope her positive attitude for learning continues. I will certainly do my best to foster that.

And the baby is just a pure joy to be around. She’s in those years where her personality continues to develop every day. Her speech is advanced for a not-yet-2-year-old, she’s independent, intelligent and just a pure joy to be around. She also has enough chutzpah to give me the confidence that she won’t fall in with the wrong crowd but will go confidently in her own way.

Even though there were plenty of downs in 2014, all-in-all it’s been a great year. I am anxious to see what 2015 brings. Perhaps our oldest will ease up on the Ross Lynch obsession throttle before the restraining order becomes necessary. Perhaps our 11-year-old will put as much energy into her school as she does her creative activities. Perhaps our 5-year-old will finally go to sleep in her own bed for the entire night. And perhaps our toddler will finally learn that a dinner plate is not the proper practice piece to train to be an Olympic champion.

Only time will tell.

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