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Happy New Year 2013
12/31/2012 1:47:53 PM

Another New Year’s Eve is here already.  The older I get, it seems as though each year flies by more quickly than the last.  Some of those years presented events that were uplifting and life changing, a graduation, a promotion, the start of a romance, a marriage, the birth of a child; other years were life changing in a sadder way, the loss of a loved one, the end of a friendship, a change in financial fortunes. Most years were a mix of both.

How I celebrate New Year’s Eve has changed over the years.  As a child New Year’s Eve was always a family event.  My sister, two brothers and I dressed in our party clothes and the evening began with the six of us sitting around the kitchen table enjoying a feast that mom prepared.  After dinner and after the dishes were washed, dried and put away, we gathered in front of the Christmas tree and watched holiday programs on the black and white TV.  Although we were allowed to stay up until midnight, we all fell asleep way before the midnight hour and dad carried us upstairs to our bedrooms one-by-one as we each lost the struggle to stay awake.

As a teenager I begged to spend the night at sleepovers at friends’ homes where we would make prank telephone calls, eat too much junk food, drink too much soda and listen to the latest records on portable record players.

After high school and during the early years of my marriage New Year’s Eve was date night, a time to buy a party dress, expensive shoes and join five or six other couples for a night of dancing, good food and way too much to drink.  Eventually there came a time when getting dressed and going out into the cold, cold night was less inviting and staying home sitting in front of the fireplace and sharing a few glasses of good wine was more appealing. 

Then I discovered skiing and spent New Year’s Eve in snow covered lodges.  Although my body was weary from the day of exercise the warmth of the roaring fire, the comfort of the overstuffed chairs and quiet conversations with friends made for memories I will never forget. 

When my son came along we celebrated New Year’s Eve in Lake Placid, NY, for the first five years of his life. I can still see him lying in the snow making snow angels, bundled up in his light blue snowsuit, wearing big red “moonboots,” red mittens snapped to his cuffs and a scarf tied tight around his neck. After a late afternoon nap we would walk around the village on New Year’s Eve looking at the holiday lights and watching the huskies pull sleighs filled with tourists across the frozen lake.  As my son grew up, his dad and I divorced, and I went to work full time.  While my son spent New Year’s Eve with friends, either at their homes or ours, I found myself lapsing into my childhood days of falling asleep before midnight.

Since then New Year’s Eve has been spent at small house parties, maybe dinner and a movie with family or a friend, an occasional date, but mostly, I like New Year’s Eve at home.  One more quiet night in front of the Christmas tree before it’s taken down and the decorations are put away until next year.

However you spend New Year’s Eve I hope you have fun and stay safe.  I hope 2013 brings you happiness and joy, good health and prosperity.  With all its surprises, may 2013 be a good year for all of us.

 

Once Upon a Time
12/27/2012 7:07:35 PM

The soldier was just beginning to sleep through the night again, although he had been home from the war for almost a year.  The horrors he had seen no longer occupied his thoughts during his waking hours, but the images often returned with a vengeance while he slept, the sound of his own voice yelling into the darkness waking him before dawn. 

The soldier’s wife lay next to him each night, her stomach swollen with the weight of their third child.  Her husband’s night terrors no longer frightened her and she had learned how to calm him quickly so that their sleeping children would not wake up afraid.  The child she was carrying, however, sensed the sudden surge of adrenaline in its mother’s veins and heard the muffled sound of its father’s anguish.  How many millions of people began their existence like this unborn child, unlikely witnesses to the consequences of war?

Her husband did not have to go to war.  He was almost 28 years old when he and a group of his friends enlisted.  She was four months pregnant with their second child, their daughter was just two years old. She understood his desire to defend his country, and she could only imagine what he went through overseas, but she had also suffered, the two years he was away were the most difficult years of the young mother’s life.

On a crisp September morning shortly after midnight, their third child, a daughter, came into the world in the last delivery room on the right, on the second floor of a beautiful, Federal style building that housed the Leonard Hospital in the Lansingburgh section of Troy, New York.  Mom and daughter spent ten days in the hospital before coming home, which was the custom at that time.  During those ten days, they shared a large open room on the second floor, just down the hall from where the child was born, with eight other mothers and their newborns

The soldier’s daughter lived a happy life.  A few years after she was born, her family moved away from Lansingburgh to the eastside of Troy.  She returned to Lansingburgh most Saturdays during her childhood to visit her maternal grandmother.  When she was a teenager, she traveled by bus to the Catholic high school in Lansingburgh which was a few short blocks from the hospital where she was born.

After high school, the soldier’s daughter took a job away from her hometown, married and began a family of her own.  During the next 65 years she raised her two children, said goodbye to the soldier and his wife, sent her children off to college, watched them marry and have children of their own, said goodbye to her husband of 60 years and met her grandchildren’s children.  When she was 84 her son, who had moved to Lansingburgh after a number of job promotions and transfers, found her an apartment in a newly renovated building dedicated to senior housing. 

It was a small, but sunny apartment on the second floor of the lovely old building.  Her great grandchildren were in high school at her old alma mater which was only a few short blocks away from her apartment and they would often stop by to say hello on their way home from school.  She enjoyed spending time with her neighbors and felt particularly at home in the large community room a few doors down the hall from her apartment.  She lived three happy years in that apartment until the morning of her 87th birthday when she simply did not wake up.

It was not until a year after the solder’s daughter passed away, that her son discovered that the beautiful building that housed the senior apartments where his mother spent the last three years of her life was originally the Leonard Hospital.  He never found out that the bedroom where his mom passed away had been the last delivery room on the right, the room where she was born.

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