I’m several days late with my traditional year’s end blog post – unfortunately life, vacation, and a host of other things have gotten in my way of taking the time to properly reflect on the year that is now past.
The new year, as I’ve said before, is a time of great reflection for me. I typically take a long vacation in order to recover from the previous year and plan for the year ahead. And this year has been no different.
As always, each year brings with it loss and heartache, as those that have brightened our lives move on and pass out of this world into the next. Perhaps it’s just me being reflective, but it seems that as I age, that more and more of the people in our world move on — perhaps it’s just that they’re closer to me in age now – or that I’m more aware of them than I once was.
George Carlin passed this year – one of the few comedians that I would stop what I was doing in order to watch – and then laugh uproarishly. Edmund Hillary, who in 1953 had the courage to climb the slope of Mount Everest and gain success where so many others had failed. Michael DeBakey who worked tirelessly to develop new methods of cardiac surgery – even creating a process that was later used to save his own life from a cardiac issue. Bobby Fischer, who in 1972 defeated Boris Spassky in one of the greatest chess games of the last century, and Charlton Heston, whom I’ll always remember as riding that chariot in Ben Hur with the jubilant grin on his face.
The one that I’ll probably miss the most, though, is NBC’s Tim Russert, who died far too young at the age of 58 last year. I’ve missed his candid commentary during the election last fall – and his tough questioning on Meet the Press. Tim always asked the questions that I had in my head – and never failed to entertain when he was being interviewed by others. A good man, we lost him far too early in life.
And then, just as the year was coming to a close, a woman that many of you have never heard of – Margaret Bogart, passed away at the age of 87 in Arizona. When I was a young man growing up in Covington, Indiana, Margaret and her husband Herb were our next-door neighbors. A retired couple even at that time, they had never had children of their own, but in some sense, they had adopted my brother and I – and even my parents – as their surrogate family. They moved away to Arizona in the 1980’s for a warmer retirement. Herb passed away many years ago – but Margaret never slowed down – traveling the world and keeping up with her hobbies. As a young child in a small town, sometimes a good laugh with a neighbor is all that you need – and that was what Margaret gave everyone.
I didn’t make the funeral – my parents went to the simple graveside service – where after more than twenty years away, the service began with the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana”.
I think everyone has had someone like Margaret in their life at some point. She’ll be missed by many.
And finally, Paul Newman passed away last year at the age of 83. A highly gifted actor, I’ll always remember him for his saying in The Hustler, “Fast Eddie, Let’s shoot some pool…” – reminding me that at the end of all of the talk, the posturing, and the discussions, someone needs to make a decision – that despite our circumstances or situation – we have to go out and face the day.
Which I think T.I. and Rihanna say quite clearly here:
I hope that you and yours had a safe and wonderful new year. I’m looking forward to the challenges that 2009 will bring to all of us – I plan on living my life.
Previous editions: 2004, 2005, and 2007. Sadly, I was on blog hiatus in 2006.
I didn’t really finish this post – I came upon it in draft and decided to just touch it up and publish it. Hope I didn’t let anyone down – I just can’t seem to finish this piece.