Today’s Friend Friday guest is Kathy Birke. (Please let me know if you’d like to be a guest writer. I would love to have you.) Kathy is the mom of P’s brother’s wife – kind of like an aunt to me. She plays the bagpipes, paints, and studies genealogy, among many other pursuits. Three words I would use to describe Kathy are active, curious, and warm. She emailed me her thoughts regarding the completion of 2007, and I asked her if I could post them. Here’s what she has to say:

I would like to acknowledge myself for some special deeds in 2007: One was getting over the fear of something my daughter volunteered me for at an elementary school she had worked for in the previous year.  I rallied up a program to teach some basic and fun language skills in spanish to kindergarten – 5th grade students.  I even talked my usually introverted spouse into assisting me and I could tell he was as mesmerized as I was to see the simple joy in these children as we learned about other cultures and danced about the room to the tune of “La Cucaracha” with marachas we all made by hand.  Priceless!  My husband and I surmounted another challenge we always dreamed of – braving the seas of the Bay of Fundy as we took our boat up the Maine coast and east to Nova Scotia for 2 weeks.

There was much to grieve in 2007:  The loss of my golden retriever granddog, Joey, who brought so much joy to all, everyday he graced our presence on this earth.  May he be forever retrieving tennis balls in Heaven; the struggling health issues of many special people in my life, including the loss of kidney function for the father of my son-in-law, the recurrence of melanoma cancer for my father-in-law; the diagnosis of prostate cancer and need for surgery for my brother; the quick onset of dementia due to ongoing small strokes for my favorite uncle and the accompanying toll it takes on my aunt; slow failing health and increasing loss of independence for my very brave mother; and the second tour of duty to Iraq for my nephew who is a Navy corpman supporting his fellow Marines to assist in their medical needs.

To declare the year complete, I feel so many of the above grief issues have had, or will have some level of resolve as the year 2008 is upon us.  I was able to encourage my father-in-law to seek a reunion with a sister he never knew he had until he was in his late 20’s and had not visited but once or twice since then.  By working on a family genealogy project I was able to make this happen with my husband and myself able to join him on the journey along with visits to his childhood communities along the way – and now we continue to celebrate his life as he starts chemotherapy while we all enjoy the peace and beauty of Sanibel Island, FL;  as Andrea and Patrick (whom I feel are like daughter-in-law  and son-in-law just as his brother is) have mentioned in these blogs we all feel hopeful for Joe who will be receiving one of Patrick’s kidneys in March and may he get back the joy of life he deserves; I was able in January, to join my brother to support him while he had his surgery and initial recuperation, and to be there when the radiology report came back showing no spread of the cancer in other organs; I have made and will continue making supportive visits to my mother and to my aunt and uncle as they face life’s challenges head on; my nephew is due to return stateside in one more month – meanwhile I pray for his keeping out of harm’s way and for his safe return.  I am trying to live life in a way that I hope to have no regrets.  Peace on earth, good will to all!