This holiday season has me wishing each of you joyous, healthy, happy, and prosperous days in 2015!
I do relish each day's moments, but they seem to slip by ever so quickly -- often unexpectedly interrupted with instances of reflection or anticipatory thoughts for the unknown future as I continue "living in place."
Reflection seems to become more pronounced for me this time of year -- stimulated by seasonal music -- often prompted, too, by the holiday greetings received from friends, family, loved ones. They give me pause to note the hand writing of the sender -- if differences observed
in letter-making firmness, grammar, language used in thought expression
-- to wonder if some writers may be experiencing other functional
changes. A very few greeting cards may have only an imprinted or
signed name. Hand-written personal notes, typed letters recounting
personal family activity highlights and enclosed photos are especially
welcomed by me. Voice quality reveals much of emotions beyond words if we're able to talk.
I also become acutely aware of those from whom I no longer have contact by greeting card, phone, other social means causing me to wonder about their welfare. My reality for too many years, especially as I've aged, is that this does not always bode well. I know loss is to be expected, but the reality is no less difficult to accept as I celebrate a loved ones life.
A profound loss for me early in this past year was that of my brother, a most significant person in my life about whom I have written here previously. My big brother's personal caring for me provided unparalleled emotional sustenance and support throughout much of my life though we had erratic lengthy periods of time apart, separated by many miles, even oceans.
This WWII veteran proudly served abroad in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. His subsequent civilian professional life centered on facilitating radio communication through association with many of the primary electronic companies focused on radio/television aspects in this major evolving technology of the time. The result was his involvement with Project Vanguard, a beginning to our nation's space program and a forerunner to NASA's formation.
("Project Vanguard -- The NASA History" by Constance McLaughlin Green, and Milton Lomask includes a must read introduction by Paul Dickson, "Sputnik" author. He succinctly describes the Project's scientific successes leading to significant technologies today which others have omitted reporting. Instead writers briefly allude only to a launch failure, but omit reference to the harried times with Vanguard's unique pressure-to-launch circumstances when Russia unexpectedly revealed their space program by successfully launching "Sputnik.")
So many reflections I have since his death and especially this season.....
Vanguard's Ecuador satellite tracking station on Cotopaxi, a potentially active volcano over 19,000 ft with one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world, became his work site for a couple of years. Saving for a flight to visit him and family in the countries capitol city of Quito became high on my priority list. The flight there on the countries airline -- even though they weren't known for punctual schedules, give a day or two, and unscheduled stops along the way -- such as Panama going, Peru and Jamaica on return after a one day departure delay -- still allowed me to enjoy the flight adventure, culture and people for a memorable trip. One unusual activity occurred at a site where I could stand on both sides of the equator by placing one foot on each side simultaneously. Strangely, a tiny, wizened, weather-worn old woman appeared there before we left and put a curse on us.
Another uncommon recollection after he returned to the U.S. was my seeing a TV airline commercial many years ago, "Give your wife Hawaii for Christmas!" He was employed by a different company, living on the east coast by then, but, coincidentally, he did just that -- summer of the new year the family moved to Oahu. Unfortunately, not long after the family with teen children moved to that idyllic island his wife received a medical diagnosis of ovarian cancer which ultimately took her life.
Changes for him continued as he remarried, left the electronics industry where he had additionally become engaged in recruiting, and briefly pursued a state political office. His progression into industrial relations resulted in another geographic move to participate in implementing Indonesia's then-ruler's plan for a staple food program to expand his nation's rice production. Finally returning to another of Hawaii's spectacular volcanic islands his focus then addressed the companies sugar and macadamia nut production. Subsequent retirement years offered he and his artist wife an opportunity to devote their energies toward a more settled home location.
Maintaining close connections through the years with those I care about can be challenging when many miles and even oceans separate us. I've come to realize I much prefer the privacy accorded by postal letters or land-line phone calls for meaningful personal communication. Current digital devices I now relegate to carrying mostly only general or superficial commentary.
I'll be anticipating receiving those holiday cards, letters, phone calls, photos and the reflections they stimulate next holiday season -- and even some throughout the year along the way.