A new year, a new beginning. Rock ‘n’ roll, current popular music and loud cheers from the girls blare upstairs on the main floor during the annual deferred recruitment as they enthusiastically vie for new members to join the sorority.
I must admit that 2019 was the fastest year of my life. Where did it go?! Mama passed a year ago this month. Two major surgeries. New job. New home. New community. New church. New friends. New Bible study. New expectations. New educational opportunities. Yet, old car. It just still keeps on ticking and looks great. Knock on wood. My last German beauty had 560,000-plus miles; this one has 338,000-plus.
For many years, I have started reading the Bible on Jan. 1 with Genesis Chapter 1 and completed it after daily readings before the Christmas holidays. I have read many versions and several a few times. However, this year, I am excited to share that I will be reading a Jewish Bible for the first time ~ The Tree of Life Version translated for Messianic Jews who believe Christ is their savior so, therefore, it includes the New Testament.
All thank you notes for Christmas gifts have been written, though holiday cards are still hanging. I enjoy rereading them and will make gift tags or book markers to share next season. Photo cards are kept until the new rounds arrive. Several antique Scottie items were found under my tree and dear friends, Jill and Marvin Willis, gave a year’s subscription of Amazon’s Audible. Perfect as I work on projects at my desk, travel or run errands. You may recall that a doctor challenged me last summer to read William Manchester’s “The Last Lion.” You may also recall that I did not realize it was a three-volume set of over 900 pages each. Was he joking? Though I have read half of volume one, the Willis gift is allowing me to dive into Churchill’s fascinating life as I go about my daily routines.
Pre-holiday adventures took me to Skaneateles, New York, where ABC’s World News Tonight anchor and 20/20 co-anchor David Muir purchased a home. He graduated down the street from Ithaca College with academic honors and a degree in journalism. The Dickens-feel town is breathtaking with mansions and Victorian estates on the water. It features tons of fun, cute stores, restaurants and an interesting history museum in The Creamery. A definite revisit is planned when my Southern friends travel north.
Before returning to New York and Cornell after the holidays, I enjoyed my gratis room in Georgia’s Lake Lanier Legacy Lodge — the one I got for the valet faux paus of losing my car keys during last years’ wedding festivities. Growing dark, needing gas and having been on the road for over eight hours, an overnight stay in Staunton, Virginia, found its way onto the agenda. Good to see more in my birth state. I called the Blackburn Inn (designed by Thomas Jefferson’s protégé, Thomas Blackburn, who at 21 took a position with Jefferson in building the University of Virginia). Originally built as the Western State Asylum in 1828, the inn became the Staunton Correctional Center in the 1980s before being abandoned. After a two-year renovation, The Blackburn Inn opened its doors in 2018 offering guests a historic landmark boutique hotel. Federal tradition of red bricks and white wood trim beckon comfort in a distinctive classic American style. The updated guest rooms, however, are ultra-modern with original wide heart-of-pine flooring. I was one of only two guests that evening. And, no, the former asylum and prison was not haunted ~ or I was just too sleepy to notice any ghosts.
My Bible study takes me to one church each week. Growing up Methodist, I have also worshiped in Ithaca’s St. Paul’s United Methodist Church which was originally built on the current site in 1820. According to the history documentation, the stained-glass windows that were added during the rebuild in 1907 are thought to be Tiffany. The Light of the World window is based on a painting in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
So, I have learned a few things living near Canada during the winter months … A broom is efficient for removing snow from the car … The car needs anti-freeze windshield wiper fluid. Learned that the hard way. And, if I have an appointment, I cannot just walk out and wave a wand.
I have reasoned that 2019 may have been my shortest year because I slept through most of last summer recovering! I have also discovered that Mama’s passing, more than anything, has prompted me to fulfill God’s gift of each day with a renewed enthusiasm. Learn from all with whom I encounter. Try new things. Spread the love. And, speaking of love, Happy Valentine’s Day! No one person is special in my life, but I will celebrate the love of so many close friends. How blessed I am!
Susan E. Kendrick is a Sunday Stories columnist who shares her insights and Southern humor each month in Sincerely, Susan. To correspond with Susan, email her at [email protected] To share your events for our Out & About calendar, email us at [email protected]