Finding light in the gloom of 2020
Let’s face it, 2020 sucked.
We could describe it in more palatable terms but sucked just seems to be amazingly appropriate. It beat us up in so many ways. The caronavirus dominated every aspect of life on every level. We lost company, sports, events, jobs, entertainment, education and those so important in person human connections. We saw cities in riot mode and spit fire at one at one another trying to determine whose lives mattered – black, blue, all, none. Most agonizingly we lost people. We saw impeachment and hypocrisy on both sides reach embarrassing levels. We slashed our way through a bitter election that turned social media into a political sewer and fueled our growing differences and led to questions about our electoral process.
Simply put, 2020 sucked in so many ways. We are battered.
But this is not a diatribe on reminding us of an on-going ugly-year. This is no salt on the wound or an attempt at a torturous reminder of doom and gloom. On the contrary. There were bright spots in 2020. No, I did not fall on my head or begin a journey into la-la land. I just decided to find some light in the dark. You know, those green plants that somehow grow between the cracks in the pavement. They are there. Give the eyes and mind a chance.
We were reminded in 2020 to take nothing for granted. Not our family, friends, jobs, games, get-togethers, education. Not tomorrow. Nothing. We have so much and we forget that. A lot. We have been reminded to stop carping about what we don’t have and appreciate what we do have. 2020 gave us that lesson if we are willing to learn it. That is a good thing.
I lost my mother a little more than two months ago at the age of 88. She lived a life of love and accomplishment, raising five children and setting a great example with an admirable resume of civic involvement. The void, particularly reinforced by the holidays, is painful. Yet I have been buoyed by the thoughts of a long life shared. Mom got to watch all of us get married, raise our children, meet grand-children and great grand-children and followed our careers. She shared in all of it. She watched two of us retire and saw four of us hit 60. The highs and lows, she was there for all of it. From the time my dad died in 2004 until this year, she slept over my house on Christmas Eve and opened presents in the early morning hours of Christmas day with my wife Caroline, son Jon and brother-in-law Peter. We traveled what I called the Senior Tour in recent years, once a week traveling to locations around the state to eat lunch . The is a line from an old song that goes, “You can’t hold a memory in your arms”. True. But I have found solace in the time we spent and what I had instead of what is gone.
When the Covid started I started walking. With no work and a lot of time, hitting the road was the option. Yeah, the virus helped my health. Hitting 10,000 steps was an often unachieved goal. Most of the summer it was two walks a day, between 15,000 and 25,000 steps, five to eight miles a day. The old sugar numbers were down at last visit and the energy level up. The weight, well, that’s a struggle, but I am healthier. Disclaimer - (Christmas hasn’t helped),
I actually saved some money. My wife and I usually go out to eat on Friday and Saturday nights. Well, that got squelched for a while. We did eat take-out, but, there was no beer involved. When you go out and have a taste or two, it kills the bill. Not that we didn’t enjoy one at home but the cost was less. Gee, if I lived in California I’d be rich.
Getting back to the walking. The more I hoofed it the more I looked and the more I saw. I walked places I have been by my entire life and yet saw things I had never really noticed. Trees, flower beds, outdoor touches people had made to their yards. It was like a whole new world. I like to snap pictures with my phone. Don’t claim to be good. There are only so many John Murrays and Jim Shannons around. But I saw a whole new world. Some of the pictures came out really good. Others, like so much of the year sucked. You know, like the ones of my foot or half finger in the photo. Still it is fun, a new hobby.
I saw a fall high school season a tradition for decades. But in 2020, the year of the cancellation, a treasured bonus. Schedules were skewed and masks a must but it was a season. I saw Northwestern Regional’s Alex Beauchene and Thomaston’s Maeghan Desmarais win BL cross country titles along with their teams and the Thomaston field hockey team go undefeated. I saw young athletes and coaches happy, never a given in 2020.
I was able to connect and do a story on Jerry Beach, a Torrington guy who cut his writing teeth at the Register Citizen and has gone on to write three sports books in New York. He was a youngster when I was at the RC along with editor Gerry DeSimas but we helped him along and it was fun to chronicle what has been a solid career that he has worked hard for.
The family managed a vacation at our favorite spots, Long Beach Island in New Jersey. In a time of masks, social distancing and all that Covid demanded it was a special treat. The sand, waves and company proved to be a respite and soothing balm in a tough time.
My son Jon continued to make Dean’s list at Eastern Connecticut State University and is now 5-for-5 in his college career. My wife finally got her aching knee repaired with a partial knee replacement and is making great strides to getting back to normal. My Aunt Betty nearing the age of 90 continues to rock and roll around the streets of Thomaston observing protocols of course.
There was more reading time, porch beers, outdoor sunsets, walks around the track with a good set of partners – Marilyn, Pat, Sue and Barbara and telephone calls with Mr. Gaffney. We did not sit around and collect mold.
It was summer of reuniting with old classmates, Jay Fredlund, Mike Bakutis and Don Elwood. We played and often tortured golf course around the state a couple of times a week. It was a special treat. We are older now but these are friendships of a lifetime. So special.
After several years of futility my golf partner Jason Bronson and I made the playoffs of our golf league at Fairview Farms Golf Course. A strong second half surge turned another mediocre season into a good season. We lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions but it was fun.
Nobody can paint a pretty picture of 2020. It sucked in so many ways and we long for what was once normal. But in this corner there were those impressive signs of life like those plants that find the cracks in the pavement and bloom. We lost much, the world turned upside down. But, amid the gloom there was the light. Maybe we had to look a little harder. Maybe it was about appreciating what we used to take for granted. Whatever, there were some smiles to be found. We all enter 2021 with hope of better. But 2020 had its moments.
Happy New Year!!!