It is not uncommon to flip through our mental files and review the past year even as the bedraggled and bearded fellow we call the Old Year makes way for the new kid in baggy diapers.

The changing of the guard is not unlike companies replacing experience with a cheaper and younger version. Unlike the attitude of those shunted aside in the corporate world, the Old Year is more than happy for the New Year to take over.

The truth is the job ages those guys. It is not an occupation Peter Pan; the eternal 12-year-old would relish. Watching the antics of mankind is enough to make the Mad Hatter go insane.

As we review the past year, our thoughts turn to moments, some good and some painful. Since the mind tends to time travel, we may revisit memories of long ago.

Have you ever met someone who gets along with most everyone they meet? What you may not realize, sometimes their souls march to a different drummer than the folks around them. Hubby was such a man.

The man would have thrived in the days of the old west as he did throughout his life. Once he set his mind on a goal or project, there was nothing he could not do. So, when all his siblings married and settled down to have their 2.0 or more kids, he remained single. Hubby lived his life at his pace and no one else’s.

Hubby became the designated Santa and passed out the packages under the tree each year so each family unit could open their gifts together. This tradition continued throughout his life even after he married and had children of his own.

One day he met someone and proposed to her within two weeks. Then the young man introduced the Catholic girl to his staunch Baptist family. Most of them, especially his mother, made his chosen mate feel welcome. “If my son loves you, I love you,” his mother explained.

The only exception was the tiny woman who reminded the girl of a cross between Mammy Yokum of the Li’l Abner comics and Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies. Auntie was old school. She chewed snuff, spit it into a can which probably held tomato paste in another life, and kept giving the Catholic girl the evil eye. Hubby did not care about Auntie’s opinion. He loved the girl and married her. Remember, different drummer.

Hubby loved Christmas. The problem was he did not limit his giving to that holiday. Throughout the year, his wife bought toys on sale and stashed them in the “gift closet.” But every time the nieces and nephews visited, the man reached into her stash and gave away the toys.

What saved his ears from a rousing Hungarian tirade was a wondrous toy sale. We ended up buying about $600 worth of toys for around $200. The packages filled the bed of our ¾ ton pickup.

Since Hubby had a giving heart, if she asked for something, he would move heaven and earth to give it to her. Consequently, if she liked something, she made sure to be specific. For example, “That necklace is beautiful to look at, but it is too ornate for my taste.”

During the past year, Hubby endured chemotherapy and radiation battling esophageal cancer. When the doctor told him to exercise and gain weight before the surgery to remove the tumor, Hubby dutifully got on the treadmill almost every day. Since the radiation shrank the tumor, he was able to eat real meals once more.

As Hubby gained weight and built up his strength one could almost forget he had cancer. Looking at him, it was easy to believe he was back to his old healthy self. Then they found cancer cells outside of the esophagus.

Instead of more debilitating chemotherapy which might extend his life a month or two, he chose quality of life over more treatments. Except for his last month, he was almost back to the old Hubby.

2018 was a roller coaster ride of hope and despair. It was the year I lost my best friend and love of 53 years, but the treasure trove of memories of a life well lived remain.





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