This is a hard time of the year. The holidays with all of their magic and fun are over, and we are left with cleaning up and putting away. Winter has settled in, with many parts of the country having more snow and bad weather conditions than ever seen before. Christmas bills have arrived, and it is amazing how much was spent on so few people. For many people, excess weight has also settled in, and the New Year’s resolutions to hit the gyms to get back in shape have given way to settling in and staying warm. We are two to three months away from relief from winter. It would be easy to get despondent, with not much to look forward to soon. But we should not give in to this seasonal sadness, for we have so much to be grateful for.
I just called my eighty-eight-year-old uncle, Uncle Barry, to check on him. He lives alone in a town three hours from us. I call him periodically to make sure that he is ok. He and Mike’s dad are our family’s elder statesmen. I also called Uncle Barry because I remembered today is his oldest son’s birthday, the son who passed away years ago at 40 years of age from a misdiagnosed heart condition. Having children of my own, I cannot imagine the grief of losing a child, even an adult child. I have the same bargain with God that many people reading this have, to not outlive my children.
Uncle Barry thanked me for remembering Barry Jr. today. He said he is doing ok, but he wished he could go and do like he once did. Although he snow skied for the first time at seventy-five years of age and skied for many years, I can see that he is slowing down. He still works some in his irrigation and outside lights business, but mainly when his long-time customers call him. When he is with us, he sleeps much of the day, which I wonder if is from boredom as much as anything else. He spends much of his awake time working crossword puzzles and watching TV. Mike’s dad does the same thing at ninety-five years of age.
Uncle Barry asked how our recent ski trip to Steamboat Springs was. He went with us on this annual trip a few years ago, but the altitude was too much for him to enjoy it. I told him that we had a great time, but that I am a little tired from the trip, and the cold that I had there. I then shared that I am making a trip this weekend to see friends in Alabama, then Mike and I will be in Atlanta for a few days, then to our middle granddaughter’s birthday in Georgia next weekend. I told him that I am somewhat dreading all of the travelling (again,) to which he replied, “Keep going as long as you can.” He said he missed being able to go and do, and that there comes a time when you can’t anymore. I was struck by this comment. I realized that although I tire sometimes from our busy lives, I know how fortunate I am to be healthy enough to do all that I do and to have friends and family in our lives who we want to be with. They and we are willing (and thankfully, able) to travel to make that happen. I know Uncle Barry’s experience will at some point be mine. There will come a time, if I am fortunate to live long enough, when I will want to be able to go and do, yet age and health will preclude me from doing so.
So, for now, I am going to keep going as long as I can. I am also going to enjoy these cold and lazy days indoors, and spend time doing things that I will not want to do when spring and summer come. That includes cleaning out drawers and closets, organizing photos, and ridding our home of some of the unnecessary things that occupy space. I am reading Joshua Becker’s book, The Minimalist Home, to help me with this task. While I do not plan to be a minimalist, I do want to pare down some.
There are other things that I can do. I might even plant those pansies that I bought before Thanksgiving! Or maybe I won’t! Whatever I do, I will remember Uncle Barry’s wise words, and keep going as long as I can. For I am well aware that there will come a time when I can’t.