A Look Back at 2018

As I sit here and begin to look back at the past 364 days, I am struck by the fact that time really moves a lot faster as you get on in years. This is also the first full year of my retirement and, while I had been retired since July of 2017, there was definitely a transitional time. I guess that the word “transitional” could describe my entire year.

In January, my father-in-law, Leonard Gibbons passed away. He had struggled with Parkinson’s disease over the past few years and it was really hard to see him lose his ability to take care of himself, let alone others as he was apt to do. I can remember him as a man who was always in control and he was a leader for his own family as well as a dear loved one to his extended family. I live in the house that he occupied for years and I still think of him when looking for tools…asking myself, “where would Len have put that?”

Also, in January, I returned to New Jersey to participate in what may well have been my last concert as a member of the Philly Pops Festival Chorus. During that time, my beloved Eagles were making a playoff run without their franchise quarterback and shocked me and the world by defeating the New England Patriots and their renowned for winning (and cheating) quarterback, Tom Brady. Yes, the Eagles were Super Bowl Champions. The game was scheduled for February 4 which coincided with my final concert with the Philly Pops. The following Tuesday, the day of the parade, I left New Jersey and returned to California.

In February, March and April I saw Tennis at the Indian Wells Tennis Center, crowds gathered for Coachella and Stage Coach, events for the young and not me, and I saw specialists for my knee problems. On February 6, I had both a blood clot and a Baker’s cyst confirmed in my right leg. My knee pain prompted me to see a specialist and I am on anti-coagulants and saving up for stem cell therapy which even my east coast doctors say is my best bet right now. It’s just insurance companies that don’t.

On February 7, I got to see my son play in Dirty Dancing in San Diego, the first of three performances that I would see with him. He would later audition for the first national tour of Dear Evan Hansen and was hired in May for a two year tour. I have seen Dear Evan Hansen now 4 times…and counting. I am very proud.

In the summer, my daughter was promoted at the Guide Dogs of the Desert to the training department. She is now working to be a trainer with them. In March, she brought out her friend who obtained a chocolate lab as her new guide dog and then went back to New Jersey.

In May, I was hired by the Desert Sands Unified School district as a substitute. I worked one day at the local middle school and one day at Shadow Hills high school before I accepted a long term music teaching position to finish out the year. I once again had to conduct a concert on my birthday. I enjoyed it because it made me feel a little bit more normal. I also needed the money as the bills were outpacing my retirement income.

In June, I returned to New Jersey to work on the house. We still need to sell it but there are issues, both legal and practical that are standing in the way. I joined my son there for the summer while he worked on his show for the upcoming year. I cleaned a lot of stuff out of the house and after my son’s Broadway debut in Dear Evan Hansen, I loaded his Saturn Vue with all of the things that I thought I needed and headed out to California. Along the way, I stopped at the Field of Dreams movie site in Iowa. I also stopped in Denver where Ryan would be performing soon. I set out for California from Grand Junction Colorado and tried to make it all the way to La Quinta, California but my transmission had other plans. The car died in Yucca Valley. It was about an hour from home and Kelsi knew the way, so they drove to pick me up and the car was towed off into the sunset never to drive again.

In September, I started to work again. I needed the money and so did my wife as she doesn’t get paid over the summer. These next two months were very “transitional” in nature. I paid off my house in New Jersey in October. I had taken over paying the real estate taxes in November. When December arrived, I finally could breathe again…financially.

Today, it is December 31. I took a bike ride because I want to take a daily bike ride. I had to schedule it and follow through because it was cold. I stopped at the outdoor gym and did some strength training. On my ride, I rode up the trail at Wolf Bear Creek and witnessed a snow storm happening on the mountain in front of me. I began to get very philosophical about the new year. I am healthier. My leg is feeling better. I am getting organized for my “resolution”.

My bicycle at a water stop on Fred Wolf Bear Creek Trail, in La Quinta, California

Since retiring, I’ve let myself get out of shape. I am physically and mentally soft. I have decided to take stock. I am tracking my day with my daily goals and they are on a time. There is a pie chart that will track all of my time including one of my worst vices, the television. I know what I want to do. The goals are there. I seek to eliminate this television from my daily life. I’ve already started. Check back next year to see how I’ve done.

Happy New Year all and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.

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