Float On 2011

For me, as I think it is for most of us, New Year’s Eve is a time to look back as well as forward. Auld Lang Syne and all that.
A little melancholy mixed in with the champagne and noisemakers. A cocktail of sweet vermouth and bitters strangely mixed to a balance.
36 years ago tonight I stood on a float for the Rose Parade and waited while the preliminary judging took place which would decide my fate of how my year would begin. My float placement in the parade lineup meant either I was on a winning float or I wasn’t. Either way it was a good place to begin the year. I stood tall, smiled, and hoped I looked pretty. Maybe I would find favor with the judging gods.

As I began 1975 with my long ride down Colorado Blvd. the excitement and shine of a new year followed me. We floated around the big corner of Orange Grove and Colorado where TV cameras lined up from around the world. But after ‘the turn’ when out of camera range like reality, sometimes the unexpected is unwelcome and uninvited on our route.

Soon after the famous bend in the road my float broke down and I was lifted off my beautiful floral magic carpet and unceremoniously placed in a tow truck hoop skirt and all to wave to the crowds. I was crushed. How could this happen on this spectacular day? It was supposed to be perfect. We traveled a couple miles and at some point it was decided I could go back on the float while it was being towed to the end of the parade. At the end of the parade my boyfriend had chosen the wrong side of the street to stand on and did not see me on the float. The day was a series of highs and lows much like the year that awaited me when I stepped off the float.

My personal parade of 1975 saw my graduation from high school with a few community honors thrown in. I began my college years with a sense of independence I had never known before. By the end of the year, I experienced the sudden and profound loss of my father during the Christmas holidays and was confused by my mother’s emotional dependence on me as a result. And the boyfriend, like the parade amid neck straining to connect, we found ourselves on opposite sides of the street separated by colleges a hundred miles away from eachother.

The year ended very different for me than how it had begun.

Years later the new year would flip and begin very hard with the passing of my mom on New Year’s Day. Tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of that day.
Why she or god picked that day I’ll never understand.

Tomorrow I’ll carry it with me all day until the hour passes.
I’ll remember everything and then nothing.
It would be easier if every year the air didn’t feel and smell the same or the long shadows with intense bright spots of harsh sunlight didn’t look the same.
Every year. The same.
The elements alone force me to look back with the beginning of each year.

And like every year it’s a private moment that I keep to myself protecting my family from any annual memories of residual sadness forever cajoined to a holiday. I’ve worked hard on it over the years and I over-compensate like the Spirit of Christmas Present.

Some years are easier than others, some are more difficult and for a few friends and family this year they’ve had challenges on many fronts as you might have, as we all have had at one time or the other.

We all wonder at times why life throws certain things our way. Why the parade can start off so grand as we gracefully turn the corner for all the world to see and then ‘mechanical difficulties’ show up along the route when it was supposed to have been a perfect day. Sometimes we’re stuck in the tow truck needing a hand to make it to the end. Sometimes we get back up on the float and keep on waving.

Wherever your parade takes you this year stand tall, smile and know you’re life is beautiful.

Wishing you all wonderful blessings for the new year.

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  1. Pink Martini~

    I wish you a very Happy New Year. This was a beautiful post on life in general. My Daddy passed away on my wedding anniversary this past July. I understand how painful “timing” can be indeed.

    Mrs. Kindergarten

  2. My husband’s brother was killed on new years day so it has always been a tough time to get through for his family. It doesnt make it easier but we expect we will lose our parents some day….I dont know that anyone expects to lose a son.

  3. What a beautiful post.
    The holidays can be difficult when they are marred with family heartbreak as I have realized this year. My gran passed away on the day before Christmas Eve and I am amazed at the strength my mother has found within her to make sure that her children and grandchildren sense nothing but joy this holiday season while she is struggling with the loss of her mother. But I guess that is what mother’s do…. (at least the good ones like you and her) 🙂
    I wish you and your family all the very best for the New Year and hope that it is untouched by any sadness or grief, you deserve nothing but the best my dear friend!
    P.S. You look beautiful in that picture!

  4. Mrs. Kindergarten ~
    I am truly sorry for your loss this past year, my dear. There is no one like our dad. My heart goes out to you. xoxo

    Suburban Princess ~
    Losing a child is unspeakable. My thoughts will also be with your family today. A close friend of mine lost her little boy on New Year’s Eve and I think of him every year and I marvel at how the family has healed. I also have another close friend who lost her son this year and everyday she is learning to put one foot in front of the other greatly helped by her faith. I have seen their strength of love do miracles.

    Dear Lily ~ I’m sorry sadness touched you and your family recently. I know you will all miss your gran very much. I’m sending good thoughts your way as you begin your new year. Have a beautiful day today. I’m sending you a private note shortly – long overdue! xoxo

  5. Ms. PM&P,
    Beautiful post once again. Written words from your heart that convey to mine.
    I share your grief with the loss of a loved one just three years ago today.
    Its a bittersweet day indeed.
    Peace and joy to you always in 2011.

  6. Dear Bronco Mom ~
    You’ve just summed up my entire post in the word ‘bittersweet’. Somehow that makes me feel better. It’s hopeful and respectful. Thank you. I hope this will be a good day for you. Wishing you all the best of life this year. Much love. xoxo

  7. I feel your pain..My MIL died on Valentine’s Day unexpectedly, our children couldn’t understand why she had to died on that day. It’s a day to pass out cards to your classmates, get candy or go out to eat. But on that day, we too asked why? Your mother is with you spiritually and you can share all of the wonderful memories to your children.

  8. Dear Linda ~ That would be a very hard thing to explain to children with all the happiness of the day. My FIL passed on my son’s 16th birthday and we chose not to say anything to him until after his surprise party. We might have even waited until the next day, I can’t remember and this was only 3 years ago. It was with my MIL’s blessing since there was nothing we could do and we all wished for him to have a happy memory that night. It’s just makes you wonder, why?

    Thank you for sharing your story. xoxo

  9. I think that sometimes scars remain as evidence that we have healed. We are not the same, but we can be whole. I wish you much peace and joy in the New Year.

  10. Dear T & C Mom ~
    Beautifully said. Thank you. xoxo

  11. I thought of you this morning as we watched the parade. I saw the girls wave as they passed and I remembered you had been a Rose Bowl Queen. You hadn’t shared with us as yet that today was also the day your Mom passed away. I’m sorry. Does it seem that more people pass away at the holidays, or does it just affect us more? The melancholy amidst the Christmas joy. My Dad died just after Thanksgiving 24 years ago. I’ll always remember that first Christmas without him. Those feelings of losing him have always made me want to spare my own children the same. That’s my most difficult challenge with cancer. I don’t want it to hurt them.
    You’re so right! We do have to enjoy the parade while we’re riding high my friend, and remember the joys more than the sorrows.
    Happy NEW year!

  12. I have to say seeing the pic of your mom brought tears to my eyes and a flood of wonderful memories of Azalea Dr. She was a special person.

  13. Thank you for your thoughts. And may we all take our parade in turn.

  14. (((HUGS))) and blessings to you sweetie. So thankful that we crossed paths!
    xo, D

  15. Dear SJN ~ You are an amazing inspiration to me. I know Carter also helps you look towards the future as you should. It’s going to be an incredible year for you. I just know it! xoxo

    Dear Nancy ~ Well,you know I worshiped your mom as I grew older and could appreciate her talents and creativity. We were lucky to have such wonderful role models and memories on Azalea Dr.

    Dear Lisa ~ Amen. xoxo

    Dear FF & Pearls ~ Blessings to you as well. I feel exactly the same. 🙂 xoxo

  16. What a beautifully written post. Thank you.

    I wish you all the best in 2011.