I started the year absolutely reeling from the events of the previous year. 2015 had come up one personal death short of an alternate movie title, with three deaths and a wedding. It wasn’t really a good year to know me. I think I spent the first few months of 2016 looking over my shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Mother Nature took pity on me at the beginning of the year and delivered a very moderate end of winter with decent temperatures (for the prairies) and less the average snowfall. She did make up for it by extending the season into June and dumping more snow on me in the last three weeks of December than she had the previous two years combined, but considering my mood at the beginning of the year she did go easy on me.
Part of my funk was caused by the knowledge that Honey and I would not be escaping for a winter get-a-way in 2016. Honey and I work throughout the entire year just to afford our mental health holiday and I know we were both disappointed that this would not be happening in 2016. This mood was changed in February (our normal travel month) with a communication from Ginger. She and the Earl were visiting their Dominican estate now known as the Playa de los Piritas and she sent me an e-mail shortly after their arrival with a few pictures.
I responded and she responded back, and before you knew it we were communicating almost every day in the early morning hours. It was like I was there on the beach with them and it brightened my days and my mood considerably. Ginger is smart and funny and her wit transfers beautifully to the written word. She had me in tears of laughter with her description of the resort formerly known as Los Gringos and the goings on. Those two weeks of communication with Ginger helped to change the year for me. The e-mails helped me find my sense of humour again and it was those communications that made me start this blog (or whatever it is) up again, after it had gone dormant. So you have Ginger to blame for the crap I’ve made you read this last year.
The year brightened considerably again when Ginger and the Earl invited us to join them on their beach this upcoming year. The e-mail contained the phrase “we have taken the liberty of booking you…” and also an escape clause if we should choose not to accept the invitation. Honey and I were already determined not to spend another full winter at home and this invite made it easier. Before we could even reply to Ginger and the Earl, I received an e-mail from Rock and Stream informing us that they were heading south themselves and was there a chance of hooking up for a reunion. That e-mail contained the phrase, ‘we’ve have booked a flight for February…” The dates overlapped!! Honey and I couldn’t stop smiling; this was a no-brainer!!! Our entire year has had the underlying focus of getting to February 2017 and leaving everything behind to spend some time in a favourable climate with some good friends, even if only for a few short weeks. It helped to give my year a purpose beyond survival.
Survival is what I spent the year doing on my job. Becoming pensionable on June 1st (at a reduced rate of course) made me view my work from a whole new perspective. On July 1st, staffing changes brought me a partner in the form of another full-time sales monkey riding shot-gun in my truck… sorry… OUR truck. I have not written about this because for almost 30 years I have been a lone wolf. I have always worked solo, it was my world and now the company has decided that… what?? I was too old to do the job by myself!! I need adult supervision!! What?!!! Okay, can you see had I written about that when it happened, just how out of control it could have become?
Reaching that pensionable age, even at a reduced rate, has helped keep me calm and not say something I might regret both on these pages and to my boss (#18) because the plan is to go five more years until the pension becomes unreduced. For Christmas Honey gave me a special calendar that she took the time to make herself with love and humour (She’s very crafty as exhibited by the making of the ‘cerado’ sign for Los Gringos two years ago). The calendar hangs on the wall beside my desk. The plastic holder has a banner across the top that says, “Shane’s Super Awesome Retirement Calendar”. It’s a reminder for me to stay calm and keep breathing, and that there is an end in sight that isn’t death. This morning I changed it… it reads 53 Months, 4 Weeks.
On the family front no one died (a definite plus) and Parker, GenCo’s first, was born in the fall. The other three came to visit in the summer and Honey has embraced the grandma thing with both arms. Even though I try not to let it, it makes me smile to watch her when she’s in that mode. We were also informed that a fifth grandchild was on the way, BulToo’s fourth. This has to stop! I have plans for 53 months and 4 weeks from now and they don’t include twenty family members! It’s not that Honey still isn’t onboard with spending a decade or two living on an island that doesn’t get snow, but now the conversation includes regular visits to Canada to see the grandkids or paying to have them all visit! I can’t afford that!! I won’t have a job!!!
In retrospect though 2016 passed without any major incident and a lot less stress than 2015 did. My life had more ups than downs and I enter 2017 with a positive attitude. What will 2017 bring?? Well it has started with the birth of my 5th grandchild, Sebastian. This means that Honey can stop worrying about Tattoo’s pregnancy, which from reports I received was none to pleasant, and start worrying about the newest member of the family, which from reports I’ve received is doing fine. Even though Grandma Honey over-bought at Christmas for the grandchildren (next year there will need to be a birthday present included in the Christmas crate), she did manage not to over-spend though and our get-a-way is still secure and in just more than 30 days I will be walking barefoot in the sands of Playa Magante.
It’s a good thing that I have this to look forward to because no matter what I think, 2017 will have its challenges. Like yesterday when I sat for two hours shivering in my truck in -42C temperatures while I waited for a tow-truck to pull me out of a ditch, that Mother Nature had so conveniently covered in snow to match the road, and like P. T. Barnum’s Presidency…