More than ready for a new year

By Bruce Stambaugh

On the last morning of 2009, the entire year seemed to flash before me as my car spun out of control on the icy road. When the car crunched against the utility pole, I was jolted back into reality.

That minor mishap seemed a microcosm of my 2009. I thought of Dickens’ opening line in his classic “A Tale of Two Cities.” Indeed, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.” In many ways, I would like to forget 2009. Instead, I can’t stop remembering it.

Still, with everything that had happened, 2009 is all a whirl to me. Too many times life seemed to abruptly spin out of control last year, much like my car before it hit the pole.

I do know many more good things happened than bad. Our first granddaughter was born, and Maren is as precious as her name. My wife and I enjoyed spring training in Arizona. We cherished our times with friends at our beloved Lakeside, Ohio and continued to refurbish the little cottage that my folks built on Dad’s favorite fishing lake.

Even so, I still lost all sense of time, which is very uncharacteristic of me. I couldn’t remember if an event occurred the previous day or the previous week. That was a direct consequence of dealing with my father’s extended illness and subsequent death. Of course, I joined other family members in reassuring and tending to our mother, too.

Early in the year, Dad and I spent hours on the road and in doctors’ offices, an agonizing journey through the medical maze that led to the dreaded diagnosis that his cancer had returned.

Dad loved history, sports, family, archeology, hunting and fishing. But more than that, he loved sharing those experiences with others, and hearing their stories, too. Dad was a storyteller extraordinaire. As the designated driver on our trips, I was the beneficiary of tales involving many of those subjects.

Dad loved life and went at it like he did everything else, with reckless abandon. Even at his advanced age, he chose to fight back with radiation, and gave it a valiant effort. There was still so much to learn and share, he reasoned.

After he stopped his torturous treatments in early August, Dad seemed a changed man. He accepted his situation with as much dignity as he could muster, yet carried on hovering over Mom and conversing with whomever he could anytime he could. Though he never taught, Dad was the consummate teacher.

Dad set goals. He aimed to participate in the September 12 Honor Flight from Akron, Ohio to Washington, D.C. and back in one day, and he did. In all of his life’s experiences, Dad ranked that day right behind his 67-year marriage to Mom.

Next up was Thanksgiving, and Dad again defied the odds and joined the family assembled around the traditional meal one more time. He loved family gatherings, making those a priority in his life. Christmas was his next objective.

Sadly, Dad died four days before his favorite holiday. But my siblings and I agreed that that if there was an appropriate time for Dad to die, Christmas was it. From Dad’s enthusiastic viewpoint, everyday was Christmas Day.

On December 31, I scrambled out of my car uninjured. I was thankful that 2009 was ending, even if it did so with a crash. Given the events of 2009, I resolved to live everyday in 2010 with hope and thanksgiving. It’s what Dick Stambaugh would expect.

Contact Bruce Stambaugh at brucestambaugh@gmail.com.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “More than ready for a new year

  1. Dear Bruce,

    I am delighted to see you put your wonderful writing in a blog. Your header photo is ravishing. Like you, I am more than ready to put rough and tumble old 2009 in the ground. I have enjoyed your columns and will look forward to visiting you here. Wishing you a peaceful and productive 2010,

    Julie Zickefoose

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    • Julie,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot to me coming from an accomplished writer and artist like you. I’m glad you like the pic, too. I hope to add more as I can. Blessings to you in 2010.

      Bruce

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  2. Kay Evans

    Dear Bruce,
    I can’t tell you how much Blaine and I enjoy your weekly columns. Am so glad we were on your email list and now can get everything on this “blog”.
    We were surely sorry to read of your Dad’s passing. Know you were a real Blessing to him—and vice-versa, and he will live on thru all your memories, and maybe a story or two of his to share with all of us that log on weekly to read your “words of wisdom”

    A happy and healthy New Year to you and Neva
    Kay and Blaine

    .

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    • Kay and Blaine,

      Thank you so much for your kind words of support. Clearly, Dad was an inspiration to me, and yes, I am sure there will be many “Dad” stories to come. Blessing to you in the New Year as well.

      Bruce

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  3. Carol Williams

    Your new blog is very impressive.
    I was saddened to hear of your loss and sorry to not have discovered it sooner to have conveyed my condolences. I know you will continue to celebrate his life as you mourn his passing.
    Hope the new year brings many joys & blessings to you & Neva.
    Thanks for all your columns via e-mail and for providing the connection to your new site.
    Carol

    Like

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