Dear Family and Friends,
This year seems to be the year of blink and you missed it. I turned around one day and it was December when it felt like it was just January the day before. I don’t know about y’all, but the years seem to move faster as I get older. Nevertheless, I still try to pack as much into those fast moving years as I can. This year was no exception.
Sadly, at the beginning of the year, two of my heroes from the sports world shuffled off this mortal coil. First, in January, sportscaster Stuart Scott finished his battle with cancer and left behind a legacy of courage and determination as well as a completely different vocabulary of how we talk about sports. Then, in February, the world lost one of the kindest gentlemen it ever knew when Coach Dean Smith passed away. This one hit mom the hardest as a lifelong Tar Heel fan. He changed the way we play the game of basketball far and wide, and his contributions to our country’s civil rights movement remind us we should never be proud of doing the right thing. We should just do it.
In April, Dad’s chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which he’s had for years but never needed to treat it, decided it wanted some attention. He completed six chemotherapy treatments between April and September, and at the beginning of November, he officially received the remission stamp. He will go back every three months for new scans to make sure he remains in remission, but at this point, it’s safe to say, dad kicked cancer’s butt with the help of mom and his wonderful doctors and nurses.
In May, I traveled to Rochester, Minnesota to visit some college friends, Robert and Erin Jackson and meet their sweet little guy, Beckett, who handled my stockpiled smooches and squeezes like a champ. The weather was beautiful as they showed me around their city where the Mayo Clinic is located, and I tried every form of fried cheese curd I could get my hands on. Also, having been a Twins fan since high school, I managed to talk them into taking me to the Twins game on Memorial Day, which they won because I was there, obviously. Booyah!
After seeing the Broadway cast of Something Rotten! perform on The Tonight Show, I was so entertained that I had to see this show, so I took a trip to NYC in July to see it. The cast is amazing, and over several trips back to NYC this fall for various reasons, I have seen the show a total of six times. The lovely people who work the front of house for Jujamcyn Theaters treated me like family and reminded me just how much I enjoyed being a part of live theatre back in my high school days, so if you find yourself in NYC anytime soon and you can’t get tickets to see Hamilton walk on over to the St. James Theatre on 44th and see Something Rotten! to laugh so hard you’ll cry. While I was there, I caught up with my high school friend John Cosenza. He and I grew up together, and while we have kept in touch with each other through the years, we hadn’t seen each other in far too long. He went to the show with me one night and showed me some of NYC from the perspective of an actual resident. It’s a beautiful thing to fall in love with a city through someone else’s eyes. He tells me that since the congestion in Times Square now drives me batty, I am officially a New Yorker!
In July, we lost my great Aunt Virginia. She was one of my favorite people in the world. She had a sweet smile, a rambunctious personality, and an insatiable hunger for all life had to give her. She was what they used to call a classy broad, and I miss her every day.
In August, I returned to Colorado to spend my birthday with my friends Vanessa and Brad Leonard and Tim and Cristi Schwamb and their kids and to attend Broncos Training Camp, again. There were to be two days of training camp while I was there, but the first day got cancelled due to rain the day before flooding the practice field. At least it wasn’t snow. Never fear, Vanessa and I filled the day with visits to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the historic town of Morrison, the Broncos training facility team store, and every Walmart, Target, Kohls, and King Soopers between Denver and Colorado Springs that we could find
making sure I had all the Broncos gear I needed for the coming season. Vanessa, Cristi, and I even found time for a girl’s night out. It was refreshing to my soul. My sister-in-law Janet has taken a few of those soul rejuvenating girl’s weekends this year, too. There really is no substitute for them. Also this summer, my brother Andy finished his master’s of education in educational leadership with straight A’s throughout and is working towards a position as an assistant principal hopefully in the next school year.
Lincoln turned 8 in September, and we had an Ant-Man themed birthday party at Hooters after a day at Busch Gardens. Ant-Man was his choice of costume for Halloween, too. He continues to excel in school with his perfect report cards, and he can tell you anything you want to know about Minecraft. Mostly, I just nod my head and say, “uh huh” because I have no clue what he’s talking about. This September marked the start of the 40th season of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which mom, dad, and Andy have thoroughly enjoyed celebrating as inaugural season ticket holders still going strong. God love ‘em.
Also in September, one of my trips to NYC was for a 5K charity walk benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). My college friend Ti Keshia lost her sweet niece this year to Type 1 Diabetes and asked her friends to contribute to and/or join her on this walk, so I jumped right in and had the wonderful opportunity to meet and walk with her and her NYC friends across the Brooklyn Bridge. The views from up there are spectacular, and it was a beautiful day to celebrate Princess Victoria. Speaking of diabetes, my doctor has reduced my medication to one dose per day instead of two, so I am one step closer to managing the disease on my own without pharmaceuticals. While I was there that time, I managed to squeeze in a trip to see Les Misérables. This was especially exciting because my high school friend Joseph Spieldenner is currently performing in the show as Grantaire and occasionally goes on as Javert or Thénardier. He’s just brilliant in it and was so kind to give me a backstage tour after the show, and I got to stand on a Broadway stage.
In October, I was so excited to get a visit from another high school friend, Adrienne. Her husband was here for a conference, so she tagged along, and spent the better part of one day with me. I got to show her around the Capitol and take her to some fun little places that are not on the tour like lunch in the Senator’s Dining Room. I’ve come to truly understand the importance of keeping in touch with the people in our lives who make us smile and remind us of the dreamers we used to be before the world became jaded and routine.
In November, my sweet friend Annie from Australia came over to the states for what she calls holiday. We call it vacation. While she was here, we went to a John Lloyd Young concert at the Kennedy Center. He’s a Tony winner for originating the role of Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. She also wanted to see the Washington Monument and the ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and I took her to the larger Air and Space Museum out by Dulles Airport because she’s a flight attendant. It made perfect sense to me. And I got her to try a fried pickle, which will likely never touch her lips, again. Pickles are apparently not a thing in Australia.
When I was home for Thanksgiving, I got to meet my new four-legged nephew Coco, Lincoln’s new cocker spaniel puppy. He’s adorable and loves to cuddle. We became fast friends, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I kept giving him treats. I swear. Mom and dad have loved spoiling their puppy grandchild, too. Mom and I shopped til we dropped the week of Thanksgiving, and I helped them decorate the house for Christmas before I left.
And, that brings us to December. After fourteen years of living in the DC area, I finally made it to the White House at Christmastime to see the decorations. Everything is breathtakingly beautiful and intricately detailed to fit each room’s theme and purpose. Next weekend, I’m traveling to Pittsburgh to see the Broncos play the Steelers where I may or may not get to see Peyton Manning. I was afraid of this when I saw how late in the season this game was, but hopefully, he’ll at least be there even if he doesn’t play. At the end of the month, my Alabama Crimson Tide will try, again, to add to the National Championship total. They’re #2 in the college football playoff rankings, but they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them vs. Michigan State with a potential championship game vs. either Clemson or Oklahoma on the line. Roll Tide and Go Broncos!
Whew! Are you still with me? I would understand if you weren’t. I’m exhausted myself. I hope y’all managed to pack just as much into your fast moving 2015s as I did. Here’s to a slower 2016 with a little more peace and love around the world. Let’s never forget that “hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!