Every year at this time we look back on the year before, thinking about what went right and what went wrong. We make resolutions, usually dealing with self-improvement of one kind or another. I remember only one New Year’s resolution that I actually kept. It was January 1, 1975, and I vowed to stop smoking. That fact that I have been successful, from that day to today, is one of my proudest accomplishments.
The year 2013 was a good one in some respects. The stock market went up, which was good for people who own stock. That group used to include just a privileged few, but now it includes everyone who has an IRA or a 401(k) or some other type of retirement fund.
It was also a good year for novels. I loved Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed,” Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Lowland,” and John Grisham’s “Sycamore Row.” On the non-fiction side, I recommend Avi Shavit’s “My Promised Land,” which is an important book for anyone trying to understand the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
And it was a good year for New England baseball fans, meaning those of us who care about the Red Sox. A year ago I confidently predicted that the 2013 season would be a washout – a “rebuilding” year. I missed that call. So did the umpire at second base in the first game of the World Series. I attended that game on October 23, thanks to the generosity of a friend who called me two days before and asked if I would like two tickets. In the history of easy questions, that one is in first place.
The Red Sox won that game, which was one of my personal 2013 highlights. Given my cloudy crystal ball from last year, I will make no predictions for the coming season. Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers on February 15 and position players three days later, marking the end of our long winter drought. I can hardly wait.
In other respects, 2013 was not such a good year. The Patriots’ season ended on an unhappy note, and the less said about government dysfunction the better. But the worst part of the year for me, personally, was the loss of several treasured friends. At this stage of my life I suppose I should expect it, but I don’t – I’m always surprised. When someone offers comforting words in the case of an older person, observing that he or she lived a “long and full” life, or words to that effect, I answer that I don’t care how long they lived. It wasn’t enough to suit me. The death of a friend means that I have lost part of myself, and I know life will never be quite the same.
Last year our dear friends Herb and Nancy Gleason, of Boston and Francestown, died just a few months apart. We also lost our Jaffrey neighbors Dave Sullivan and Steve Sears, both of whom enriched us greatly. Auld acquaintance will not be forgot.
As for 2014, there is good news to report. Like New Hampshire, California recognizes same-sex marriage. My daughter, Elizabeth, lives in San Francisco. She called on New Year’s Day to tell me that she and her partner, Janell, will be married this summer. I couldn’t be happier.