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Christmas :: New Years . . . . . . . . 2019
Valentine’s Day :: 71st Birthday . . . . . 2020

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A rollercoaster year. Ups, downs, turnarounds! Friends, family, children and grandchildren in the center of it all. The biggest news is that I sold the home, Paul and our children and I shared for 35 years, to our son Matthew and his wife Becky and their twin daughters.

50 years of art, memorabilia, furniture, heirlooms – all of it precious to me for the memories it evoked – had to find new homes, either in my newly created downstairs apartment, given to children or disposed of. 3600 sq ft of Paul’s and my life needed to go into a 750 sq ft apartment! At first it was very hard…..what to keep and what not to…..but as I got into the process it became easier and easier, helped in part by the children who wanted specific items.

Thankfully the most precious items were wanted. After I had made the hardest decisions and removed those things I thought would fit into my apartment I announced a give away and opened the front door. For 8 hours I watched as neighbors, friends and strangers searched through the rooms and walked out with my memories. I put out a jar for people to make donations to the labyrinth at Lord of the Mountains created in memory of Paul. At the end of the day it held about $300! So much for the public’s collective view of the value of what I thought was so precious! My favorite recipients were two families near by who were supporting and providing housing for members of their families who were immigrants. The dozens of towels, sheets, flatware and table service for 12, mega pots and pans needed for our large family were whisked away by grateful neighbors. Matthew and Becky (who moved in September 1) and I are still working to make sense of and find a place for stuff still in boxes and on the floor of the garage. Every day we make a small step of progress.

Oddly an “up” for me was my Mother’s serene slip from here to eternity. She was so joyous at the anticipation I could not help but be joyous with her.

On the other hand, my brother’s death hit me very hard. I grieve, grieve, grieve, the struggles he endured and his decision to slip away with Mom.

Up again! My devotion to the Community Dinner, championed by me in 2009 and calling in the servant side of the Elks Lodge, Rotary and Lord of the Mountains, has served 150,000 free meals over almost 11 years. It remains strong. Fortunately it no longer requires my daily and weekly devotion! It is now staffed by a professional cook and an angelic host of volunteers. I still attend when I am in town, work with the bookkeeper and grant writer to make sure the money continues to come in, marveling at what Summit County, together, has done for the homeless, elderly, indigent and working poor. It remains one of my proudest achievements.

Still higher! Another project I championed years ago was building schools, clinics and homes in Manchay, Peruoutside of Lima. I remain grateful to Frank Bumpus and his dedication for taking it over and making it bigger and more effective then ever I could have imagined. Under his fund raising expertise and talents almost 50 homes have been built for special needs families. I love getting his news. You can see all he has done to take my “baby steps” vision to new, incomprehensibly high heights!

Any donation in Paul’s memory, who loved to go to Peru with Frank and take up a hammer, will be appreciated. https://www.thefamilyofmankind.com

Ups and downs in the same day, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out! Life without Paul is becoming “normalized”, if such a thing could occur. I am still triggered by something someone says or I see or hear, and the tears well up. Less often and more easily overcome as time goes on. Moving into the downstairs apartment was very helpful as I no longer see Paul sitting at the table drinking coffee or in his recliner reading. His appearance in my dreams is sometimes sad, but more often, quite joyous. In the middle of the night we come together and part, come together and part. Much like a continuation of our dance of life.

The hardest part is trying to imagine a place more heavenly then earth, with family, grandchildren, friends, travel, hiking, theatre....... I not only miss Paul but miss this joyful life for him. I oftentimes cast my eyes up to the skies and proclaim inside, “You better be having a great time wherever you are, because I sure am having a great time where I am!”

Up and up! Another image seen less and less is me! I have lost 40 lbs and have gone from size 14-16 to 8-10. Walking sometimes as much as 20 miles in a week, working out at the rec center, being very careful of my diet have all been major contributors. For me weight loss started at the grocery store. If I don’t buy sugar and empty carbs I can’t eat them. Now, if only I can drive by Costco without stopping!

Up to the moon! What I am seeing more of are Matt, Becky, Caroline and Emelia. The girls bedroom is above my apartment and my favorite sound in the whole world is hearing their tiny 2 ½ year old feet hit the floor at 6:30 am and run through the house. I provide day care for them an average of 20 hrs a week. Love, love, love it. When friends ask me when I am going to get a life, because I am not as available as I was to do things with them, I exclaim, “What do you mean?!?!?!?! Get a life. My life right now is preponderantly Caroline and Emelia and I am the most blessed person in the world to be able to be part of their lives!” They are the most joyful beings on earth and I treasure every moment I get to spend with them.

Other times well worth spending have been with friends and family. Last spring I went with a friend on the river boat cruise that Paul and I had planned for our 50th anniversary. We went from St Petersburg to Moscow and loved the trip, loved the insights into Russia and Russian history gained, lit candles, loved being wined and dined on a lovely boat. Cruised the Hawaiian Islands with another friend. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

To the moon!!!!! The best times, however, were spent with children and grandchildren. Instead of everyone coming to Summit County for a summer vaca we rented a motor home and went to Rocky Mountain National Park. Ruben and Cassie, Rebecca and Alexandra, Rachel and sons Derek and Andrew. A great time was had by all! We hiked and hiked in and around the most amazing vistas in the United States. Two high points: The biggest thunder storm any of us had ever seen and Rachel, Derek, Rebecca and Alexandra’s successful climb of Long’s Peak, one of Colorado’s legendary 14,000 footers! They left about 3 am and summited about 11 am. A huge accomplishment for everyone!

As is her tradition, Rebecca brought Alexandra for a week of skiing in January. A wonderful time that is too soon over. Rebecca continues to work on the James Webb Space Telescope and Alexandra is taking on advanced placement classes as a freshmen while regularly advancing her skills in Jujitsu. She loves the rough and tumble of it all and can be very aggressive!

Jon and I spent a lovely Halloween and Dia de los Muertos in San Antonio, Texas. What a wonderful city. Went to the Alamo, ate and walked for miles at a time on the famed river walk.

Matt’s still flying….though pretty much grounded keeping track of Emelia and Caroline. Becky continues as pharmacist at the hospital. Working their jobs, enjoying the girls…..and moving in to their remodeled home keep their lives busy.

Rachel, Kellie, Derek and Andrew keep up their busy sports and work schedules.

Cassie went on a High School Choir Tour to Italy over Spring break. Sang in Venice, Florence, St Peter’s (Rome) and the Sistine Chapel! The last was very impromptu and a little subversive. They gathered in the corner, began to sing and continued to sing as the guards ushered them out! Cassies next trip was to Destination Imagination International Finals, again. Competing for the last time after 7 years together, their team did extraordinarily well.

Our next trip was in July, for Cassie’s “quinceanera”, turning 15. Instead of a big party I took her to Mexico with Guillermo, Jon’s partner. Had a great time exploring ancient temple sites in and around Mexico City, a special interest of Guillermo’s. Ruben and the Mountain Lyon Café are going through all sorts of changes. Through thick and thin (ups and downs) he is sticking it out.

Jesse has come as close to a clean break from his addictions as he has done in many years and moved in with me Sept 2018. I was so grateful for his company in this big old house! Sometime in January he and his girlfriend decided to make a go for it and live independently…..in their van. He had a good job with Wendy’s, assistant manager of his store, making good money. Sometime in December he slipped away, back into addiction.

Amber, Jason and Justin live in Denver, just down the hill. Jamie is joyfully working as a Sous Chef in an upscale restaurant in Winter Park . Don’t see or hear much from them.

Robert remains missing since Dec 9, the week after Paul’s funeral, 2017. Homeless people are very elusive.

Sometimes it seems odd to me that that world can continue to turn. I have had such profound personal losses but they pale in comparison to the suffering the world’s ruling autocrats are inflicting on the poorest of the poor. It seems to come down to one person after another rationalizing cruelty and then multiplying that by thousands of others in positions of power. How were these powerful predators raised that needlessly causing suffering is sought out and deliberately created. In years to come, the adult actions of these traumatized children will come back to haunt us, returning to society the fear and anger engendered in them by the way they are being treated now.

Every Child Needs a Mother like Mary
Lyrics – Deb Hage, Music – Christie Reinking

Love to you all!
Deb


Deborah Hage, MSW
deborah@deborahhage.com

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