From the time of my father’s death I have found solace in learning. Anytime I became blue I was able to redirect my mind to reading a good story, diagramming a sentence, working some math problems. Eventually I became a teacher and that work gave me a sense of well-being even in the most difficult moments. Learning and teaching provides me with a momentary form of escape even to this very day.
We’ve all struggled through the last two years in one way or another. I’ve had moments when I felt like just hibernating like Rip Van Winkle until all of the troubles of the world blow over. I then change my mind because I must admit that I would also miss out on the many wonderful things that happening simultaneously with tragedies, death, violence and the other things that sometimes worry me. That goes for every year of my life.
Charles Dickens had a way with words when he spoke of the best of times and the worst of times happening all at once. Many mourned during 2021, and I certainly suffered too many losses of friends and relatives, but I can also count innumerable joys in the mix as well. Somehow the year was a brew of good and bad that provided me with more joy than sadness.
Two of my grandsons graduated from Texas A&M University and then immediately found wonderful jobs. They’ve already enjoyed kudos and bonuses from their bosses and learned much along the way. Two other grandsons graduated from high school and began their college educations at Trinity University and Texas Tech respectively. They made it successfully through the first semester and eagerly look forward to finishing their first year of studies this spring. They are enjoying their schools and making new friends and moving closer and closer to becoming adults in the working world.
I had several wonderful trips in 2021. I enjoyed camping with my brother and sister-in-law in east Texas where we visited an incredible rose garden and found treasures in an antique store. During the summer we traveled through the panhandle of Texas seeing the sights and meeting up with a good friend. Eventually we found our way to New Mexico where we enjoyed delightful sunrises and sunsets along with a fabulous afternoon with a cousin. We walked through museums and shopped for unique wares. We were able to visit Colorado twice, a particular joy for us as we both saw the summer skies and the golden show of fall leaves in that magical state.
I got actual hugs in 2021, a grand departure from my isolation of 2019. I had lunches and dinners with good friends. When Christmas came I was able to reprise most of my traditions including celebrations with friends and a fabulous Christmas Eve with my extended family. On Christmas Day I was blessed to be with all of my children and grandchildren in addition to four of my nieces and nephews. My heart was filled with joy and appreciation of each moment unlike anything I have experienced in my life.
I attended a big neighborhood party and dressed up in my Victorian finery for the Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston. I was able to take two continuing education classes from my favorite professor at Rice University. I learned that we humans have worked throughout the decades to improve life and that our earnest efforts are slowly bringing rewards more and more people, but we still have some work to do.
In 2021, I learned not to take even the simplest pleasures for granted. Everything seemed to taste better, look better, feel better because of my unbounded gratitude. I realized how many blessing fill even my most uneventful days. I was overjoyed to receive my two vaccinations and then a booster to give me some assurance that I will not have to endure the worst effects of Covid-19. I felt quite thankful that I live in a place where such wonders of medicine are readily available, along with treatments if I get sick.
Happily I was able to teach mathematics to a wonderful group of children. Those days made me so incredibly joyful and calm. I feel fortunate to still have such opportunities to make a difference in my community. I am thankful that my mind is still working and that I have almost as much energy as I had when I was young.
I look forward to 2020. Two more grandchildren are graduating from high school in May. It will be fun to see where they decide to go to college and to watch them enjoying learning new ideas like I do. Who knows what the future will bring, but for sure 2021 was not a bad year at all. If the coming months are even half as wonderful as the past twelve have been I will be very content.