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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year!