The Last Post of the Year

The last three weeks of the year were at home in Dallas, a mix of holiday and family fun, plus service with the Dallas Ramp Project. On the 11th we built Sheila a ramp. She wept when we finished. Before we left, we visited briefly, and she explained that she had just arrived home after nearly three months in the hospital – “just” meant five minutes before we got there.

Sheila and her ramp

Dorothy and her ramp

On the 18th, Dorothy got a ramp, and on the 22nd we did our annual “Christmas ramp” for a Katherine in suburban Lancaster, followed by lunch and a couple of beers, by tradition at Gloria’s, a Salvadoran restaurant in South Dallas.

Robin, Dylan, and Carson arrived on Christmas Day (Brett had to work the last week of the year), and we had fun, though a little less than expected because the tots had serious colds (some up-and-down nights made us grateful for morning coffee).

On the penultimate day of the year, I got a call from Dan Sheffield, one of my brother’s early-childhood friends on Arden Avenue in Edina. A week earlier, I read on the website of the Minneapolis StarTribune that his dad had died, and I tracked him down in Colorado Springs to send condolences. I was delighted that he picked up the phone – we got caught up on 45 years of our lives. As I have written, reconnecting is a huge joy.

It was sunny and windy on New Year’s Eve, and I hopped on the bike that morning for the last 25 miles of the year, putting the total for the year to at a personal-best 3,225 miles. I almost hit a three-inch chunk of road concrete, and I muttered. Then I remembered that when building the ramp for Dorothy, I took a picture of the curb in front of her house. The cement was stamped Works Progress Administration; the WPA was one of President Roosevelt’s solutions to get the nation back to work, building roads and bridges and much more.

The WPA curb, still perfectly solid after 75 years

Dorothy’s 75-year-old curb was still in perfect shape, and 10-year-old curbs in our new neighborhood are already crumbling. As a nation we claim to care about quality, but we have lost the ability to recognize it – and insist on it – both in our private and our public consumption. We need to regain that ability.

The crumbling new curb, near our house

Happy New Year!

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