Odds and Ends
By NANCY PATRICK
As we near the end of 2021 and begin the new year of 2022, we have a time for reflection—reflection on what has happened and what may happen in the future. I struggle to discern the difference between importance and irrelevance. I sometimes get busy or distracted and become bogged down in peripheral things.
The older I get, the more I realize the temporal nature of this life and all its components. Though a melancholy thought, it helps me along my spiritual journey. As this year comes to an end, I have thought about some of the year’s important events and how I hope to remember them, repeat them, or avoid them in this coming year. My reflections follow:
1. In 2020, I had the first major surgery of my life—Dr. David Stark replaced both my worn-out knees on December 16. Though I have always prided myself on my strength and high tolerance for pain, I confess that this surgery brought me to my knees (sorry—I couldn’t resist the pun).
Never have I felt such excruciating and debilitating pain as I did with this double knee surgery. My body responded to the pain with various reactions including severe shaking, fainting, and even vomiting. For the first time in my life, I thought I might not recover from this trauma to my body.
Luckily, I drew upon my self-discipline and forced myself to do all the exercises my physical therapists asked me to do. Sometimes the therapists would stop an exercise because I wouldn’t call “uncle,” and they could see my body rebelling against the intensity of the exercise.
By March, I had completed my formal physical therapy and continued my exercises on my own. Throughout the year, I continued to heal and become stronger. This experience made me extremely thankful for the excellent care I received from Dr. Stark and all the other medical personnel who cared for me throughout the procedure and its aftermath.
2. In 2004 when my in-laws were in their seventies, they decided to move from Illinois to Abilene where my husband, their oldest child, lives. That decision changed my husband’s life and mine because we had never seen his parents more than a couple of times a year for the first thirty-five years of our marriage.
As the years passed, not only did my in-laws grow older and develop the usual medical needs of the elderly, but my husband and I continued to age as well. My mother-in-law died December 31, 2020, at the age of ninety. She and my father-in-law had celebrated their seventy-fourth anniversary before her death. He has had a year of grief and adjustments as he anticipates his own future needs.
3. Although I am the older of two sisters in my family, I have had the distinct disappointment of watching my younger sister experience some serious health issues this year. Throughout our childhood, I acted as my little sister’s protector. Because our mother suffered from depression, she sometimes didn’t remember Easter bunny and tooth fairy duties. I vividly remember making sure these childhood routines continued.
Watching our younger loved ones have more serious issues than we do unsettles us. Again, these circumstances in life over which we have no control give us pause. As every year has its end, a new one begins. Whatever happens in life will happen with or without our permission.
4. For forty-six years, our son Jason has been the focus of our family’s love. However, I will admit that over the years Jason experienced some personal tragedies that also greatly affected me.
I confess that I cried many tears over the years as I saw my son in emotional pain. I also say with much love and parental pride that I have watched Jason grow into such a strong and loving man. After an early marriage and divorce, Jason devoted himself to his daughter, Hannah.
For the next twenty years he spent much of his time going anywhere in the country that his daughter lived with her mother. He spent countless hours traveling and mountains of money to make sure he went beyond the legal requirements for a divorced father. In spite of those difficult years, he now benefits from his efforts as his grown daughter has developed a close, emotional bond with her father.
Our granddaughter is precious to my husband and me. She went through much of the trauma children of divorce experience. As an adult, she can now understand many things she did not understand as a child.
5. My husband and I feel extremely blessed in our lives. As we close 2021, we end a second year of hardship created by a worldwide pandemic. No one knows how long COVID will mutate and spread. No one knows how our economy will fare. No one knows how our health will progress, and no one knows what the future holds.
Even with the uncertainty a new year brings, we can know that God holds the future, and He holds us within His hands. Beads and baubles fill our lives as do deeds and misdeeds, good and evil, and always odds and ends. I pray that all of us can face the future with faith—simple faith with humility and faith enveloped in love.
Nancy Patrick is a retired teacher who lives in Abilene and enjoys writing