In memorial

A few Memorial Day’s back I picked up the phone to hear my sister Anna greet me cheerily with, “happy dead person’s day!”

The opener totally resonated with me and my macabre sense of humor.  Anna, who has since passed, also had a no-nonsense, Charles Adams sensibility to life and death.

I don’t mean to dilute or insult the symbolism of Memorial Day.  We have lost so many who have served our country on foreign soils and many who are serving still and wait at the ready if we need them.

I’ve been thinking of my dad today, a man who served in “the big one” WWII.  His Army unit famously crossed the Bridge at Remagen before it collapsed into the Rhine in the closing weeks of that war.

Like most vets of that generation (and maybe most generations) he did not talk about his time there, but we all knew it impacted and chipped his psyche in a way we could never relate to.  He came back from Germany to his Kentucky coal mining community a bit emotionally damaged but buried it underneath the constraints of the time.  He married, fathered five children, and pioneered a better life in New England.  Over the years and especially after retirement, his demons or whatever he had tamped down for decades, would surface and we would rally around to ensure he was safe until the episode passed.

My parents now lie in a veteran’s cemetery in Florida.  My mom went first, and I remember her graveside ceremony clearly.  There is a tower there that plays military-themed chimes on the beautiful cemetery property.  As they lowered her into the ground, “Anchors Aweigh” chimed in the distance.  I had smiled to myself over that.  Again, that macabre sense of humor surfacing to rescue me from the mire of sadness such occasions bring.

Stag nation

One study reveals that almost two-thirds of people who resolve to get healthy and fit in the new year give it up.

I’m not surprised by that at all. Following the excesses of the holidays, there is a certain “buyer’s remorse” over all of the bacchanal behavior we gave no thought to while immersed in the season of oversharing, overeating and overspending.

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Give thanks

I’m spending Thanksgiving with my family like countless other Americans today.

For me it means getting on a plane and flying to Ohio or Tennessee to see my sisters’ and their families. We’re lucky. We all get along really well. It could be in part because we don’t spend much time together, but I prefer to think it’s just because we genuinely like each other.

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Join the resolution revolution

Just when it seems darkest, one of my tribe reaches out with a Coleman lantern and waves it in front of my face.

I am fortunate to have a family I get along with. But since they have always lived an airplane ride away, I have formed wonderful relationships over the last several decades with many friends who I will now refer to as my tribe members, since the line drawn between friends and family has become so blurred.

Today, sitting drinking my morning coffee, I get a text message from one of the tribe elders, Pam.

“Call me when you are up. I have ideas!”

Many people besides myself were impacted by the loss of my husband. Pam has found it to be especially tough, coming on the heels of a year when she helped her husband through a bout with cancer (he is now fine) and other events which have made her question her life’s purpose at this juncture. It was a tough year for all, indeedy-do, in Pam’s lingo (and as I may have mentioned ever so tactfully, in a previous blog).

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This is not us but could have been (except for the gal holding the cell phone, as they were not invented yet when we were attending JFK Junior High School).

But Pam has already been trying to pull herself back up by her boot straps. We are part of a core group of friends who met in junior high school and camped together a lot. We gals thought nothing of packing a cooler and tent and heading for nearby Vermont for the weekend. We still see each other. Most of us went for a walk on New Year’s Day at a local park. We have more shared experiences than we could ever hope to remember. That’s why I know my friends were happy when I met James and married. At last I had found my mate as my friends had decades before me.

In either case, back to the text message. I immediately picked up the phone and without preamble, asked Pam for a run down.

“Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m calling it six in six!”

“Like a lottery scratch off game?” I responded.

“Well, yeah…OK,” she said, used to my offbeat quips.

Pam’s idea takes the New Year’s resolution to a different level.  We would each commit to plan something to do together. It could be read a book, take a day trip, sneak into the movies, steal a car (haha) –  something we have either never done or want to revisit with fresh eyes, she explained.  She takes six months of the year and I take six months and we plan one event per month.

We are all familiar with the typical type of singular resolution. The gyms are full of them come January. This idea appealed to me. A new twist that could inject some life back into our lives. Something we both needed desperately. It recalibrates the stale idea of making a resolution. Create a roadmap of experiences to look forward to throughout the year and share them with a friend.

I could already feel a small ember in my core, starting to be fanned ever brighter by a light breeze. It was not a giant plan, we would never conquer Everest, but maybe it could inspire us on to bigger and better?

“I love the idea!” I said to her, already starting to think of what we could do as the year unfolds.

The wheels are starting to turn, a bit resistant due to recent rust formations but moving all the same. So I dare you – go ahead – foment your own kind of revolution in 2017.