2017 — Getting back on the treadmill

In 1965 The Byrds released a megahit, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” based on Ecclesiastes 3 with the line, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.”

As I look back on my 2017, it seems there was a time for everything, good and bad.

The year had some wonderful highlights for me, including going to see and listen to Blues icon Robert Cray, the incredible Tedeschi Trucks Band, and a night of great fun with my pup Emilie at a Green Day concert (and for those who know their music, it can be a bit salty, but one can separate the bad from the good, and enjoy some great music).

Another marvelous time in 2017 was a five-day trip to Vancouver, Canada, with two of my favorite people, my wife Denise and her sister Diane.

We had great fun, explored fjords, took a flight-seeing tour of the city, ate, laughed and even attended a thought-provoking interview session with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Sprinkled in were great times spent with my kids and their significant others at dinners, cookouts and even a buck-a-shuck afternoon at Mesa 21 in Fall River, where I wolfed down more than my share of oysters on the half-shell.

But, turn, turn, turn. This was also a season of sadness and travail.

I lost two of my best friends this year: my dad Larry, and my golf partner and confidant, Msgr. Tom Harrington. Those two holes will never be filled, but the memories will never fade.

I even lost a wolf I adopted in the form of financial support, that lived at Wolf Hollow, a sanctuary for the animals in Ipswich. Her name was Jelly (my nickname as a lad) and she lived to an incredible 16 years old. And less closer to home, we lost a couple of my all-time favorite artists, Tom Petty and Leonard Cohen.

Denise had a fall and broke her hip and needed a hip replacement. She got to spend her 60th birthday in a hospital bed. The first few months were difficult for us both, but she’s getting stronger every day and she has less and less restrictions placed on her.

Allow me to digress here. For those old enough to remember record albums — those 78s, 33⅓s, and 45s — you recall when one side was finished you had to turn the record over to finish the recordings. I don’t usually jump my column to another page, but this one does, so now is the time to flip the record and go to page 11.

OK, back to the column. 

I also faced other tribulations that tested my faith and trust and that bowed my load-bearing beam but didn’t break it.

I wish every year was simply a time to be born, a time to plant, a time to heal, a time to build, a time to laugh, a time to dance, a time to embrace, a time to love, and a time for peace. But that would be Heaven itself wouldn’t it?

The thing about good times and bad times is that the people who are important pieces in one are usually equally important in the other.

Those wonderful folks who shared my good times in 2017 were also there for me in the bad times.

And for those in my circle who had good times, I was there with them, and there when they faced the opposite.

I still glow in the memories of the concerts I attended, the places I traveled, and the people with whom I reveled. As long as I’m lucid, you can’t take those away.

I’ll miss Larry and his World War II stories. I miss spending hours of good fun with Tommy Harrington on the golf course and during the ride home slurping down an iced coffee or a Coolata, the treasures or spoils for the victor and the defeated.

I’m saddened when a Tom Petty song pops up on the car radio, but also am warmed by the memory of having seen him years ago at the old Boston Gaaaahhden.

I even feel a twinge of melancholy when I glance over at the picture of Jelly in my office.

There’s a time to weep, and a time to laugh.

There’s an anecdote I’ll share involving Emilie that perhaps sums this up best.

Em was at the gym running on the treadmill. She was wearing a sweatshirt and wanted to remove it. Like most of us, she didn’t want to stop what she was doing and take care of the problem. No, instead she maintained her pace and pulled the shirt over her head.

One problem, it got stuck on her head. She lasted maybe three or four seconds in that state before the treadmill discarded her. She wasn’t hurt and looked around relieved to find no one saw her (except maybe those who may have seen footage on a security camera!).

She took off the sweatshirt, got back on the machine and completed her workout.

For me this year was a run on a treadmill with a few misplaced sweatshirts to send me flying backward. But I got back on and, God willing, I’ll finish my 2017 workout in a few days.

Green Day recorded a song in 1997 called “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” in which they sing, “It’s something unpredictable, but it in the end is right. I hope you had the time of your life.”

I had the time of my life in 2017 — the time that God gave me, and only me. I thank Him for the good and the not-so-good. And I ask Him to help me stay on the treadmill as much as I can in 2018.

I wish you all the time of your life in the coming year. Peace.


© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts