2016 started ominously with Great Grandma finding a lump on her breast and ended with us turning in the keys to her on vacant home.
Was everything about 2016 bad of course not.
There were many happy moments throughout the year, times that we laughed until we cried. Great Sunday dinners shared with Great Grandma and Great John, road trips to take in the beauty of the Ontario country side, family gatherings, and vacations.
The rest our family experienced good health in 2016 and we gathered together for Christmas Eve and shared memories of Great Grandma, face-timing with Great John sharing as much of our experience with him as we could.
What have we learned from our experiences in 2016?
1. Never pass on an opportunity to visit with family too soon the opportunity will no longer exist. Thus it is that in 2017 we want to continue the tradition of inviting family and friends to Sunday dinner and with each meal we will keep alive the joy that breaking bread with family after church brought to Mother.
2. We have no control over the future. We can make all of the plans we want too and believe with all our hearts that positive outcomes will result only to experience the unexpected and tragedy. We watched helplessly while too many moments in 2016 were wasted in worry, planning, anxiety, and anger. These were moments that robbed life of joy and happiness unnecessarily. In 2017 we desire to live in the moments life gives us, to seek joy in the face of tragedy and let tomorrow worry about it’s self. We will make plans and once they are made relax back into the moment we find ourselves in.
3. Our stuff is not necessarily important to the next generation. You only have to dispose of the beloved objects of a family member to realize that what they held as precious, important, worthy of handing-down does not necessarily have the same value to next generation. What held value were small things that evoked memories of Grandma/Mother, a picture on the wall, a piece of costume jewelry she worn all the time, hand written recipes that she would make when you visited. In 2017 we will declutter our home asking our children if pieces of furniture, picture … hold value for them these we will keep. Before we send family heirlooms to a second hand shop we will reach out to extended family to see if value can be found there.
4. We all have too much clutter in our lives. We are not referring to items spoken of above, no this is just stuff. Papers we filed away 10 years ago and never looked at again, cleaning supplies with an inches left in them, old glasses, clothing … just the general accumulation of daily stuff. In 2017 we are going to declutter our home systematically going through every closet, drawer, cedar chest, book shelf and cupboard. We started on our pantry and to our horror we found things that were best before dated in 2012! They had been pushed to the back forgotten for four years Yuck!
5. The importance of looking after yourself. Never forgo taking time out of each day for yourself because other need you. If you are needed then you must keep yourself healthy, well hydrated and rested. We took three weeks in the fall and travelled to Utah those memories held us together during the hardest times of 2016. We both have daily routines that renew us and in 2017 we plan on moving these forward. Never underestimate the importance of kiss every morning before you part or holding hands when walking beside someone you love.
6. We are not indispensable that being part of a family means that others will step up and fill the breaches your absence creates. The strength of a family can be measured by the flexibility of the members to step up and change roles. In 2017 we will continue to travel knowing that our children will support each other and as their parents we will start to step back letting them shine as competent adults making new tradition for this family of ours.
So as 2016 slips away quietly in our home, was 2016 a bad year… no it was a normal year made up of moments, new experiences, joy, sadness, family, laughter, fear, work, play, sickness, health, anger, forgiveness, friendship, love, birth and death.
What will 2017 bring, well more of the same and for this we are grateful.