Thursday, December 30, 2010
My Year in Review - 2010
Usually this time of year I give you my blog year in review, where I remind you of certain blogs and bestow some year-end awards from my travels. Since I haven’t blogged much at all in 2010, I thought it would be fun to bestow a few awards from places or people I definitely would have written about had I been blogging.
2010 was a very busy year for me but I did stop to smell the roses along the way.
The "way", by the way, consisted of a whole lot of traveling - including about 40 round trip air trips and another 30,000 miles or so in my car.
Let’s see - I made six trips to New York City, five on business and one wonderful weekend with my wife to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Speaking of NY and business trips, I also visited Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Cooperstown and many other upstate NY towns in between.
I visited the great state of Texas seven times. That means I had fourteen rides and interesting conversations with Jim Toney, my friend and driver in Houston for the past six years or so.
Then there were four trips to Indiana, three trips to Maine, three to Ohio, a couple to New Hampshire, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia. I also made a trip to Colorado, West Virginia, Vermont, and Illinois. And there were many windshield miles traveling in Georgia.
I also found myself in Massachusetts (not on business)and took a day off to find the graves of my ancestors. That story deserves a blog on its own and it will get what it deserves.
I had a lot of early mornings, late nights, airport time, relationship building time and meetings and more meetings. But not much writing time.
The traveling for 2010 ended for me on Thursday December 2nd, when I stepped in a hole on our deck and almost broke my neck. That rhymed, didn’t it? I actually am one day short of a month removed from that accident and still not over it.
But the accident has given me time to count trips, reflect and more importantly, share some roses I smelled along the way.
So here are a few “roses” I would have blogged about had I been blogging in 2010...and the resulting awards.
QUALITY TIME OF THE YEAR: Most definitely that happened in April when my three adult sons and I spent the weekend at Lake Oconee, GA to play golf and be together. Just me and my three boys. The weather ended up not too good for golf but perfect for father-son fellowship. We played golf anyway, reminisced about days long gone, laughed a lot, ate well and I was reminded how proud I am of all three of my sons.
CHILL BUMP MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Hands down this was the moment I walked up to Bryant the Shoeshine Man at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta and gave him a copy of “The Legacy of Eulan Brown.” He said he remembered the conversation we had months earlier when he was shining my shoes, but he had no idea his story was now published in a book. I knew at that moment the book was worth all the effort. When I walked away, Bryant had tears in his eyes. I had chill bumps running up and down my spine... and most importantly of all, a new friend.
BEST TOWN OF THE YEAR: Keene NH is a beautiful town and I was not even there when the leaves were changing or during their huge annual pumpkin festival. The downtown area is full of stores and restaurants that are bustling with business. The buildings are well maintained and not even close to what you see in most downtowns were buildings are falling apart and shopping takes place in malls and strip malls outside of town. My visit was like a trip back in time to the sixties and it felt good. Really good. I also discovered it is perfectly legal for ladies to go to the park at 2PM on Wednesday and get topless. I was there on a Wednesday and I made sure to ride by the city park but nobody was there but me. I was told it was too cold to be topless that time of year. Hopefully I can go back in the summer months one day.
The other breathtaking award winning sight was when I stood on the bridge and looked at Niagara Falls. I was in Buffalo on business but I could not leave without making the drive out to this true wonder of the world. I had never been there. And maybe I’ll never go back. But it is one beautiful example of God’s incredible creation. Simply amazing.
MOST QUAINT TOWN OF THE YEAR: This has to be Townshend VT. Although we had to actually drive on a dirt road to get there, it didn’t take me but a moment to realize I was in the make believe town of Redbud, from Chevy Chase’s movie, “Funny Farm.” I recognized the familiar places from the movie that was filmed there. I’m not sure what people do there to make a living but it may be a great place to retire. I know that because not many people die there. I also received the movie as a Christmas gift.
WEDDINGS OF THE YEAR: There were three. All were different and all were beautiful. The first took place in early May in a beautiful setting in the north Georgia mountains. The daughter of a life long friend married the son of a life long friend. I helped officiate at the wedding. I am not legal (an ordained minister also participated) but I have actually done several of these in my life - probably the number is in double digits. Doing weddings is not my thing but sometimes you just step up and do what you have been honored to be asked to do for folks that mean a whole lot to you.
The second wedding was another wedding for the ages. My niece , my sister’s daughter, was married in Charleston. There is no way i can describe the elegance of this wedding and the surrounding festivities. Since I can’t describe it, you can click here to see a highlight video of the festivities. For you who like beautiful weddings, it will be worth six minutes of your time to see it.
The last and 3rd wedding I attended was for a nephew, my wife’s sister’s son. This was a smaller affair but a real spiritual experience. To see a man and woman come together from different parts of the country and to see a family from Connecticut come together with a family from Georgia - well it was just a special thing. Although the two families are from different parts of the country, they share a common bond. The bond is their faith and if there was ever a marriage built on a solid foundation, it would be this one.
BEST RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR: Raffaele Restaurant in NYC wins that award. This Italian restaurant located on 1st Street beats them all. The atmosphere was incredible and the food was past incredible. There are real benefits to hanging with true New Yorkers. They definitely know the places to eat. If you are in NYC, I recommend you making it your business to eat there.
BREATHTAKING MEAL OF THE YEAR: We had dinner on the outside patio of the Otesaga Resort Hotel overlooking Blackbird Bay in Cooperstown NY. My brother and I visited Cooperstown years ago and visited the Baseball Hall of Fame. But we missed this. I’m sure the meal was good that night but I really don’t remember the food. What I do remember is the view and the overwhelming reminder of God’s handiwork.
IBS MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a dreaded disease that most don’t like to talk about. I have suffered from it for years and I could write a book on my experiences brought about by my calamities from IBS. But the experience on the night of Dec 1 may top them all. I landed in Atlanta about 10PM. I was upgraded on the flight back from Maine and they fed me well on the return flight - including a chicken sandwich and a bowl of fruit. When I came off the plane I had one thing on my mind - and that was to get to the Men’s room. I evidently passed a restroom right after my gate because it took me a while to find one. I was not running through the airport but I was walking briskly. I was really in a difficult place when I finally entered the restroom. I ran into a stall, pulling my suitcase in the stall with me and closed the door. Maybe you’ve never done it but it’s not easy to fit a 6’5” man and a suitcase in a restroom stall. I dropped my pants and was about to sit down when I looked down to realize the seat was wet ...and not with water. I jumped up, turned around and grabbed some paper and proceeded to wipe the toilet seat. I’m not sure how it happened but I do know it happened very fast. I couldn’t help it. You IBS sufferers will understand. I crapped on my suitcase.
LONG WEEKEND OF THE YEAR: My wife and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary in New York City in early July. We stayed at the famous Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue in the middle of Manhattan. The hotel is not what it once was but neither are we. But we had a blast. We went to several Broadway shows and ate at all the places highly recommended to us. Extravagant? Maybe. But when you have been married to an extravagant lady for 33 years, one weekend of extravagancy is a small price to pay.
PLEASANT SURPRISE OF THE YEAR: This happened at our family beach trip in St Augustine FL in June. One of our daughter in laws was nauseated one morning and our oldest son decided to go to the drug store to get a pregnancy test. Although she hadn’t studied for this particular pop quiz, she passed anyway. We later discovered that Anna Kate will have a little sister. God willing, Holly will present the newest addition to our family in early February. It doesn’t get much pleasanter than that.
FAVORITE NIGHT OF THE YEAR: Most definitely it was Friday night. That was not only the night I knew I would be home with my wife from wherever I was traveling, but it was also “Taylor” night at our house. Our granddaughter, Taylor, spends the night with us every Friday night. It is a standing date. And it is a day I look forward to every week. We are well aware there will be a time when spending the night with her Papa and Meme won’t be at the top of Taylor’s list of things to do. But right now it is. And we are seizing those moments and creating memories for a little girl that might just last her a lifetime.
EULAN BROWN AWARD: This goes to a lady I met in Keene, NH by the name of Cassandra McNabb. Cassandra not only works full time as a funeral director but she is blind. She wins the Eulan Brown Award because she has chosen to overcome the obstacles in her life that would keep her in the ditch and keep her from moving forward with life. And yes, she will get a plaque from me that will be worthy to hang on her wall ...for others to see.
PROUDEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR: As a fourth generation funeral director, I could not have been more proud when my middle son, John, passed his national boards and became a fifth generation Goddard in the funeral profession. Edward A. Goddard, George H. Goddard, Edward M. Goddard all had to fidget a little in their graves. John’s Uncle Mac and this dad beamed with pride. We threw him a party and presented John with a framed picture consisting of six Goddard undertakers. John’s portrait was included in that framed picture.
GREATEST LESSON OF THE YEAR: I learned this lesson again on Thursday morning December 2. In one moment I was laughing and talking on the phone. The next moment I was lying on our deck and having trouble getting my breath. It was a very hard fall for a 56 year old man. I was reminded a few hours later that our circumstances can change on a dime. One minute I was fine. The next I couldn’t get myself off the bed and could not even take a step.
The lesson is to refuse to take the blessings I enjoy today for granted. Everything may change at a blink of an eye. My real opportunity is to enjoy the moment while it is mine.
And that, my friend, is exactly what I intend to do and it is one of the greatest lessons of life.
I wish you all a one day at a time, moment by moment, prosperous life in 2011.