It’s a New Year

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What is it going to be? What is it going to bring?

Hopefully COVID is mostly in the rear-view mirror, though of course it’s still a concern along with flu and the other usual illnesses. Economic concerns are still very much a thing as the fed tries to control inflation, the housing market reels from interest rate changes, investments are shrinking, etc. etc. And these are concerns for people who actually have houses and investments. As prices continue to rise, just the basics of food and shelter get farther out of reach for many.

I know, there have always been problems and challenges and somehow, we get through them. But for me, now, I enjoy being farther away. There are many days I don’t even want to flip through the news headlines. Then there are other days when I realize that there is so much to be done, so much need, and I’m sitting here on my behind watching the bananas grow when I could be much more useful.

My head is in a weird place at the moment. I’m thrilled to see the beautiful new baby next door, a perfect little boy being welcomed into a family who loves him very much. I love calling his happy grandma abuela (grandma) and watching her big smile. The occasional baby cries remind me of this new life who is our future.

On the other hand, I’m really sad to learn that two Florida friends died on New Year’s Eve. The one I have known for decades lost a long and painful battle with cancer. His wife is a close friend and I hate to think how hard this has been and is now for her. I definitely didn’t feel in a celebratory mood this New Year’s Eve.

I must be getting to that age that you hear about, when you start losing friends. My friends from my New York days have all passed on. I’ve lost some of my Florida friends, and almost all of the others who are still here have had significant health challenges. Here in Panama it’s more of the same. Some expats have left the area, which is to be expected as needs and desires change. But, a number of others have died, including a couple young, strong Panamanian men which has left their families devastated. It’s a weird feeling to have lost so many friends and acquaintances. Am I next?

But, on the very bright side, I have gained three sisters and I’m working on getting to know a large extended family of husbands, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many grandkids. It’s been a dream for a long time, but the reality has exceeded all expectations as I have been welcomed with open arms and open hearts.

And, most important, both of us here are healthy. We don’t have the stamina and resilience we had in our younger years, but we are still able to do pretty much everything we wish. We’re healthy, we have wonderful family and friends, and we live in a place where we are really happy. There is difinitely a lot to celebrate as we go into this new year.

That’s enough deep thinking for one day! Going forward, we’re expecting just our usual lives, except maybe the weather. It’s dry season now but we have had a couple good rains in the last week, and it’s raining lightly right now. I don’t enjoy summer when everything gets brown and crispy so if it wants to rain now and then, this is fine with me. Rumors are that because of climate change, this could happen more often this summer.

It will be interesting to see what this year brings. “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near” (Roadhouse Blues, the Doors) As a nurse I definitely learned this lesson. Live today, do it now, pay attention to your people, don’t put things off for a better time because you just never know. As always, take care of yourselves and each other.

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