As with every preceding year, 2019 has been a huge race consisting of 365 laps. What I really like about each one of these annual marathons is that every participant – regardless of age, physicality, station in life – has exactly 24 hours to complete each lap.
With race parameters clearly defined, it remains then for each “runner” to generate and contemplate what happens along the way: peaks and valleys, joys and sadnesses, splashy events and quiet moments.
To that end, time spent with family and friends becomes ever more special as the laps pile up. For Boomers, it is what we seldom anticipated during our salad days, when we took for granted all the hours we spent together at home, work, school, in the neighborhood. But as distances increased and face-to-face interactions dwindled, every visit, every phone call, even a few Facebook photos have become precious moments to be cherished. And cherish I did in 2019.
Sadly, too, part of each race is losing some so dear to us. Learning to live with memories in place of a parent, child, or companion is an adjustment requiring many laps over many races – perhaps even the remainder of a lifetime.
In retrospect, however, I can report that 2019 has been filled with experiences more positive than otherwise, partly because of the projects and activities that accompanied the steady rhythm of my accumulating laps.
For example, there were the three young women I have been tutoring for a while now, each of them with goals met in 2019. The Russian psychologist/athlete, determined to earn the doctorate in sports psychology unavailable in her home country, has improved her written language skills so markedly that she will begin graduate school in California next month.
A recent valedictorian of Urbana High School, who told me at our first session that she wanted to study physics in Germany, began her formal language study basically from scratch in 2017. Incredibly, in March she passed the German entrance exam and is currently working her way through that country’s university system.
And kudos to the Triad sophomore who has just completed her first year of German online! What a great bunch of students!
In addition to my knitting and sewing projects, there was always at least one book next to my recliner – complete with bookmark: I seldom finished a daily lap without having read a couple pages…or chapters. But I hit the book bonanza in January when I landed solidly in the world of Scarlett O’Hara to experience with her life in the South before, during, and after the Civil War. What a remarkable read!
I also wrote, spending parts of five laps each week on 52 columns for the UDC, as well as a couple of profiles for Otterbein’s alumni magazine.
And by late summer I was combining my writing with my concerns for certain ongoing political events. Infuriated by the same old public circus and lack of effective official response after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, I wrote a column for the UDC, which I now refer to as my AGAIN article.
Shortly thereafter, I decided to share that article with my legislative representatives in Washington and Columbus – Jordan, Portman, Brown, Huffman, and Vitale. And I admit I got carried away: six weeks and a few hundred dollars later, I had sent article reprints in hand-addressed envelopes to every member of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, the President and the Vice-President, the governor, and the mayor of Dayton.
Oh, I know I was more than a bit batty to think my efforts might make a difference. Although I did not really expect to hear from any huge numbers of the leaders I contacted, I was disappointed at the sound of crickets from my reps in D.C. and their counterparts here in Ohio. I did receive a sincerely-written form letter from a congresswoman in Massachusetts, an e-mail link to Governor DeWine’s 17-point plan from his personal aide, and a nice note from Dayton mayor Nan Whaley.
I do not, however, consider my exercise in democracy a waste of time, effort, or money. As an American, I am allowed to express my views. In fact, as an American I SHOULD express myself to those representing me.
Unfortunately, I still spent many a lap in 2019 pretty wound up about the struggle for America’s future. My political anxiety and apprehension, I think, made the absolute highlight of the entire race that much more delightful.
Thanksgiving, just a few weeks ago, was the best day ever. The food was excellent, the company even better. It was all so very special because it was so us: several generations of family spending an afternoon together laughing, reminiscing and futuring, missing those unable to attend, catching up. It was the loveliest of all things lovely.
And now here I am – here we all are – headed for the finish line of 2019. But the race we are running is unique in the world of sports. The very moment we lean into the tape, we will find ourselves already on the start line of 2020. As fireworks burst behind us, as we toast a new year, with hugs and kisses all around – the starter will raise his pistol. And Ready! Set! Go! We will be off again…
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.