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The inevitability of aging has reached fully conscious levels in my brain. I watch my life slow down while my grandkids lives speed up. My kids move through their lives in a constant state of motion while my life is full if I do one thing a day! Then nap!
Life is good. I made this leap into the unknown. Impulsively moving to Belize, startling myself and my family with the rapidity of the decision! No regrets. Watch the sunrise over the ocean while doing QiDong on the beach. Walk 3 miles. Have coffee with friends. Kayak. Teach reading and art at Holy Family Elementary School 4 or so days a week. (Learn more about the school in my new blog!) Welcome visitors. Wrote a Rotary Grant for $5000 to refurnish and equip a preschool class gutted by fire. My sister Darcie came for a week and taught art at the school. With some other Rotarians, we started sewing and wood crafts class after school to assist some students who needed financial assistance for high school create donor gifts. We raised $4,500, enough tuition for 6 students. After stepping down as President, I continue to serve, via zoom, on the board for Treetop Child Advocacy Center. I feel fully alive, vital, useful, full of purpose and joy….. grateful for the essential support of friends and family…..humbled by the gift of health that allows me to do most of what I want to do..
The only thing missing is Paul. The truth of the matter is, however, that the compromises we willingly and lovingly made for each other would have precluded much of what I do now. As I think back over our 50 years, finding my bliss in the tropics while staying in a loving relationship with someone whose idea of bliss was different would have been the tricky part. I am quite certain that if Paul were still alive I would not be snorkeling with friends and painting purple toucans and fuchsia flowers on the walls of a beach house in Belize.
Rebecca, (50!!!!) is likewise rewarded by her life and work. The cosmos images being sent by the James Webb Space Telescope continue to enthrall scientists and theologians alike. Her work on the subsequent telescope, Grace Roman, occupies her with Goddard and NASA. Her circle of friends continue to bring joy to her and to me, some joining her in Belize for a week. Alexandra, 18, is slowly working her way through emotional and mental upheaval while finding her passion in life. One of which is caving. She is pursuing electrical engineering, problem solving and invention at Laurel Technical Institute in Morgantown, West Virginia. All interests Paul shared.
Jonathan Alejandro (49) has bought a house! A wonderful home for him and Guillermo with a large yard, storage for Guillermo’s flea market finds and a bedroom for me. The floor joists had termites, the window jam was rotted, the house was uneven, the bathrooms had to be completely gutted…..other than that it is perfect! He continues to fly for United, play flute at Mass and volleyball. His biggest interest, however, is volunteering at a thrift store which supports Mission of Yahweh, where Guillermo works, a home for women and children. His second biggest interest is helping me find used bargain books, toys, puzzles to take to Belize! I arrive in Houston and we shop ‘till we drop!
Matthew (47) loves his new job with Kalitta, flying freight around the world from the cockpit of a 747. All those cheap Chinese goods flooding the market and breaking on opening? Thank Matthew. Weaponry delivered to Ukraine? Same. No product too big or small. When home he holds up his share of the sky by being a mission coordinator for Summit County Search and Rescue. Becky is a rush of energy! Trying to hold down her pharmaceutical job when what she really wants is to take Emelia and Caroline, 6, to every worthwhile class and activity known to mankind. Ballet, Jazz, Hiphop, skiing, sledding, swimming, gymnastics, friends, Girl Scouts, weekly pizza parties……The family is nonstop!
Ruben (47) has taken on the duties of being the property manager for our rental condos in Dillon. He calls in for repairs, collects the rent, rides herd on late payers, kindly, and makes sure the renters are happy. I am indebted to him! After 30 years at Mountain Lyon Cafe he has finally been given oversight duties in the kitchen. He is relieved to finally be in charge when the owner is gone. Cass is loving being at Colorado Mountain College, though struggling with some emotional and mental baggage. I appreciate how seriously schools take issues facing their students.
Rachel is also a whirlwind of teaching Sociology at two universities, volunteering, homeschooling Andrew, supporting Derek and managing her home with Kellie, who also continues to be a professor of Sociology.. To keep up her energy she runs 5 miles a day! The trauma in her near future is Derek leaving for college in the fall! The adventure for Derek (18) is leaving for college in the fall! Fortunately Andrew (12) will keep the parental units occupied!
Robert (46) has landed safely and happily in a lovely residential treatment home in Everett, Washington, a state possessing far and away the most advanced thinking and funding regarding mental health, criminal behavior and treatment instead of incarceration.
Jamie, Jesse and Amber are incommunicado, presumably happily living their lives.
While Belize is home, it is really more the base of operations! Spent 2023 New Years In Silver Spring MD with Rebecca and Alexandra. Visited Robert, cruised to Alaska with friends. Had lovely reunion at The Sand Dunes in Colorado with the family and cleaned the Paul Hage Family stretch of highway. Spent summer and early fall in Summit County. Visited Savannah and Charleston with Rebecca. Thanksgiving at Rebecca’s in Silver Spring with Paul’s sisters Judy and Marilyn. Ended year with kids and grandkids for Christmas in Las Vegas (even made Christmas cookies!) and in Houston for New Year’s, helping Jon renovate his new home.
September traveled through Europe with friends for almost 3 weeks….Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Czechia, Poland, Great Britain. Castles, cathedrals, more castles, more cathedrals. The highpoint was a 6 mile trek along deep ravines and catwalks next to a roaring subterranean river: Skocjan Cave in Slovenia. A wonder of the world if there is one! Ended with three days in London, seeing shows (Wicked, Back to the Future, Book of Mormon, the funniest, most sacrilegious show possible!), walking to museums, more palaces, more cathedrals, walking, walking, walking. According to my tracker I averaged 8 miles a day for 3 weeks or about 170 miles!
The constant question of me everywhere I traveled was, “Why, when the world is so hungry for democracy, is the United States moving toward autocracy?” “Why does a minority of legislators in the United States government not see that winning the war for Ukraine is winning the war for civilization?” “How can a governor decide that 3 people crossing a river are going to be left to drown?” “Why is Trump even being considered as a presidential contender?!?!?!” I had no answers.
2024 is here. With it comes a chance for democracy to succeed or fail. We will see. We will see. For now I greet each sunrise with joy for the dawn of a new day and the knowledge that I cannot change the course of the world, however, I can affect the lives of a few children here in Belize by teaching them to read. It is not much, but it is satisfying and rewarding. I am content with that.
I hope your life, blessed in so many ways, while being afflicted by loss and events out of our control, is still a joy and you greet each day with a song of delight for a life worth living.
Peace in the world is non existent. Peace in our lives may be elusive. Peace in our hearts is there for the taking.
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break and things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you”