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Seeking Out Smooth Ice for the New Year

Late December back in '63.

Seeking Out Smooth Ice for the New Year

My birthday will end just as the big sparkly ball makes its yearly ascent to the top of the pole. It was late December back in '63 when I poked my head out to look around and I decided to stay.

Having a birthday side-by-side with the New Year makes the magnifying glass just a bit thicker. It's like waving goodbye and hello while adding a spritz of immortality to the champagne. You run a little faster to put as much time between the two as possible. 

If life is a continuous loop of lessons and tribulations, the past year has made me dizzy. But with each event has come a new discovery — an increased awareness — a forgotten appreciation for the simplest of life's offerings. 

And while I promise not to take you on a tour of the remaining rooms in my home, maybe you'll find some parallels from your own lives and know that there are others who can appreciate and sympathize with you. 

In a period of a couple of days, my daughter and son-in-law learned that he had a complicated form of cancer and that she was pregnant with their first child. What followed was an amazing display of support and generosity. Family, friends and community came out to help. You know those friends on Facebook who LIKE your comments sometimes? Well, never underestimate their level of concern. Never doubt the people you serve with on local boards and booster clubs. Or those you always assumed were only watching from afar. 

When you are a 5'11", 230 lb. high school freshman, it's tough to hide. It's even harder when some of your football coaches are also wrestling coaches. The Boy had told me he was NOT going to wrestle. He didn't like it and he never would. Unlike his father, he doesn't seek out attention. I knew wresting didn't appeal to him because it was an individual sport. It would be just him alone on a mat with an opponent. He'd been a pitcher in the past alone on the mound. But even then most parents have their eyes on their own kids.

I didn't push him either way. He's quiet but he can also be stubborn. I was shocked when he emerged from the comfort of his post-football season cocoon two weeks later. I'm still not sure whether it was an ambush or he was a willing participant. After a week of practice he won his first match — a 31-second pin. 

I overcame a couple of my own fears — too embarrassing to write about in front of the entire Internet — and even more so because I couldn't get past the third one. Not sure if I ever can. Someone told me that we all have limitations although I've seen people who seem to smash that theory to pieces.

My dad has limitations. He's been in a wheelchair since an accident almost 20 years ago. He's been in the hospital for a couple of months. It's the second time in three years that he's needed an extended stay to recover from an infection. His focus is always the same: Get better so that he doesn't miss another of his grandchildren's events. He’ll be home for the New Year.

I can't close my last column of 2012 without a mention of the Newtown tragedies, yet I have nothing new or insightful to add to what's been written already in the past couple of weeks. I can only try to improve on how I move forward and how I handle certain relationships badly in need of repair.  

If you've ever spent time on a frozen lake you know about pressure cracks. Basically they occur when the ice expands to a point where it has no place to go, so it separates, and shifts, leaving a gap at the surface. No matter how many times you've experienced them they can be a little unnerving.

Sometimes one crack will ripple for as far as you can see and I've even had them travel right between my feet. Most people won’t leave the lake altogether. Lakes are big. There's always smoother ice somewhere close by.

You can live with the nicks, the cracks, and the gaps or move along and find another place to continue your activity. Some will repair the ice — fill in the cracks and gaps with a little snow and touch it up with a sprinkling of water.

May you and yours have a Happy New Year filled with love and good health. And don’t let those pressure cracks get in the way of an important relationship.

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