Looking back on a year filled with loss and toward a bright future
After a night of pizza and fireworks, the Patterson family welcomed in the new year with the arrival of 2013.
The next morning, I was ready to take on the world with a new perspective, a few new resolutions and a new attitude.
For some unknown reason, I began to knock down every item I had on my to-do list around the house.
I cleaned all the bathroom cabinets out first. I now know what happens to Pepto- Bismol after a few years buried inside a medicine cabinet, and it’s not very pretty.
Then I began to throw away all the junk tucked underneath our bed. It was no man’s land under there with dust bunnies that had transformed into dust dogs and about four years worth of recycled Christmas bags.
At the end of the day and with a belly full of peas and cabbage, I surveyed our hard work around the house. There were still a few junk drawers to tackle, but overall our mission was accomplished.
We began the new year with a new slate around our home. Clutter was attacked, junk was thrown away and order was restored.
Let’s just see how long it lasts.
But as I was cleaning up around the house on the first day of the new year, sadness also popped up every now and then.
Cleaning up our Christmas decorations, I found a wrapped box underneath the tree. Coated with a deep purple and blue canvas, the gift tag shined through like a candle.
It was a gift I had purchased about two months ago for my Aunt Sonya. Sadly, she died only a few days before Christmas. I was never able to give her the present.
My eyes began to tear up. Not only because her death is still close to home, but because it was the first time I had really put a lot of thought into her Christmas gift.
It was easy to buy a collectible or knick knack for her. But it was the first time that I went out of my way to get something that would comfort her, especially during her time of illness.
Moving onto other areas of the house to clean, I opened a drawer that I had shoved several photographs to make room for mantle decorations.
The first one I grabbed was an older photograph of my Maw Maw and Paw Paw. They were in their 20s. Paw Paw was in his Army uniform, and Maw Maw had a head of freshly set curls.
I put the picture back to original spot. It was also in 2012 that we buried my Maw Maw. She died last January.
Paw Paw died almost 20 years ago, but I still have never got over it too.
Grabbing a feather duster, I began to hit a few areas around the house. It didn’t take too long for me to make my way to a cabinet that holds all of Jason’s “man stuff.”
Amidst the arrowheads, bullets and hunting calls, there sat a simple photograph of his Granny, Sue Richardson.
Granny was in the middle of a conversation in the photograph, but you could tell she was standing in her kitchen. It was the place where Granny made you feel most at home. With the smell of homecooked meals and an open table, she made anybody feel like family.
She also passed away in 2012, only a few weeks after my own Maw Maw.
That evening as I went to bed, I began to think about all the loved ones we lost in 2012 within our family. And they were all people that had a presence...a presence that you can just tell is no longer there.
There were empty seats at the table this holiday season. You almost felt like they were in the other room.
But the one thing that offered me hope during that tough time of cleaning up was gazing upon the photographs of our children.
Our son James was beginning to look like a little man. And our daughter Elsie was beginning to grow her hair into a small ponytail.
Those images of their smiling faces put a smile on mine.
You never know what life is going to throw your way. You never know when your ride is over.
But its those young faces that carry on the memories, traditions and life.
It’s in their faces that you see the future.
And you can’t help but smile.