There were fewer people at mom’s New Year’s party this year. Dad passed away three years ago; he’s out for the count. Her best friend whom we called Aunt Ann died last year. Mom’s brother, my favorite uncle, passed a few months ago; we miss them all.
Aunt Sandy, who’s mind is failing, is home taking care of Uncle Jack and his Alzheimer’s. Aunt Pearl can’t drive because her mind is slipping, so she didn’t come either.
Janet came because mom picked her up and drove her. Her Parkinson’s makes her a messy eater, but she’s always ready to party. Barbara, the picture of health, arrived with platters and crockpots of food so good that we would fight over the leftovers at the end of the night.
The extended family showed up with food and drink and games and music and stories to tell in the rented firehouse where we have celebrated all occasions for over forty years.
Mom’s done an amazing job reinventing her life after her marriage of fifty-six years ended with dad’s demise. At seventy-seven years old, she continues to deepwater run every morning at the YMCA, volunteers at the library teaching knitting, is part of a book club and has a number of groups she knits with, too.
Her strong ability to flow with change makes her a bit of a super hero to many. A few months ago she fell down the stairs in the middle of the night and only broke her wrist. The pain was so intense that she couldn’t knit, so she decided to catch up on all the movies she had never seen or wanted to see again.
These days she’s knitting again and this morning she was up at 4 AM cooking for the party.
Rather than noting all of the people who can’t make it this year, she’s made new friends that my siblings and I can’t keep straight.
What’s that guy’s name, the one with the dogs? Rob. Oh, right. How about the woman who knits with her? Jay? Oh, yes. And that one who speaks with an accent, what’s her name? Don’t remember.
There’s a lot of research on how difficult it is to make new friends as you age, but my mother didn’t get the memo. She’s a master of creating community, whether it’s the guys she jokes with at the pool or her “Merry Widows” group that sips wine at their potlucks.
Mom won’t be setting any New Year’s resolutions for making new friends, being more social or for spending time with the people she loves. She’s got that covered.
Isn’t it interesting the way we beat ourselves up this time of year while we count our shortcomings and pressure ourselves into public accountability to resolve them as quickly as possible? Resolutions are so last year.
Rather than trapping ourselves under the weight of weaknesses, perhaps we should celebrate our skills. What are you good at, already? What area needs no resolutions?
Take the road less traveled this New Year; count your talents.
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