I will not say that 2011 was a good year.
This was the year that my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was the year that my sister, Sheila, died suddenly of a stroke, ten days before disease claimed my mother’s life. My sisters and brother, my daughters, nieces and nephews and cousins and so many dear friends came together during that time…to mourn for and honor Sheila, and to help Mom die with dignity, surrounded by those she loved. I came through it dazed, in awe of my Mother, her courage, grace and strength; amazed at the resources the rest of us pulled from, to make it through, and to do it right.
But, three hundred and sixty-five days could not all be bad, at least not for me.
I live in relative comfort in my own home in the United States of America, in the state of Michigan…and I have a job! My home is in the center of a nice little island with sandy beaches and star-filled skies. I have a wonderful, large family and many good friends. I am appreciated for who I am and for the things that I do. I am in good health. There are many blessings.
I spent good time in the studio during the winter months, so had new work to show in the Spring. The “Meet the Artists” day at Livingstone Studio was a big success, and I made several sales.
In April, my daughter, Jen, along with her son, Patrick, and a couple tag-a-longs drove to South Carolina to visit my daughter, Kate, and her family. We hiked in the foothills; we visited art galleries, novelty shops and book stores; we ate at one charming restaurant after another. There was time to relax, and time to reconnect with my daughters, my son-in-law and my grandchildren. It was a good vacation.
In July, my nephew, Tim, married Candace. We already loved her, and felt she was a perfect addition to our family. The wedding was well planned and beautiful, and another chance for our family to come together for a joyful occasion.
In August, I was invited and was able to briefly attend my ex-husband’s family reunion. Though I’ve been divorced for ages, the years I was in that family – aged sixteen through thirty-two – were formative ones. Those people are important to me, and it was nice to see them.
For the first time in thirty years, I have a puppy!
Though I didn’t put in my usual vegetable garden this year, and the entire plot grew up with weeds and neglect, I was able to harvest strawberries and raspberries though June and July, and grapes through September. They thrived despite the lack of care, and I ate my fill, filled my freezer, and shared with friends.
A business trip with my boss in October was helpful beyond my expectations, and a good experience all around. Later that month, my friend, Linda, and I took a weekend for shopping and catching up.A trip in early December gave me a chance to personally deliver Christmas gifts, and reconnect with family and friends. Christmas was filled with unexpected pleasures and gifts.
This year, for the first time in many years, I spent two whole weeks in the home I grew up in, surrounded by my brother and sisters. Though it was a sad, tragic time, we came together in love and loss; we buoyed each other up. We laughed and we cried together. I realized I have much more in common with them than I ever would have imagined. They are all an integral part of my life, and a big influence on the person I am. I feel lucky to be a part of this family.
So, another year is behind me. The events of this year have reshaped my thinking, altered my focus and changed my attitude. I know I’ve grown stronger for what I’ve experienced, and that I’m a better person for what I’ve seen. I still feel sometimes overwhelmed with sadness, but I’m optimistic, too. I’m looking forward to the new year, and the changes it will bring.
Happy New Year!