Daze of My Life: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Daze of My Life
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Due to the debilitating emotional effect of my mother's two-month decline into pain-ending death on Dec. 6, 2008, combined with the official announcement made by my wife, Dina's, long time employer, Tivoli's, in Rosslyn (nearly 25 years employed) that they were closing their restaurant and lounge on Dec. 20th after 27 years (thus unemploying Dina), neither Dina or I were in the mood this past Christmas to do unto others (heck, we were barely able to do unto ourselves). In fact, the first - and only - time we went shopping was Sat. night, Dec. 27th - after Christmas. And that trip was not to bargain hunt; it was to buy a 2009 golden retriever calendar for Bailey (our second golden) and of course for ourselves, so that we could hang it in its usual place of honor in our kitchen (time marches on, however slowly).
And so for us, 2008 was the year that Christmas came and went, and never really was (Thanksgiving wasn't a whole lot better, either). Oh, we saw it on the calendar and heard about it as usual and Dina even decorated the lounge at Tivoli, but in a year in which two extremely significant things were taken from us, we just couldn't muster the spirit to give. Perhaps, had we given, it would have lightened our load somehow and balanced our respective burdens. But finding the energy and the intestinal fortitude to fight the fight was simply too much for us. I just figured that it was a losing battle, emotionally, and in a way, almost disrespectful to my mother's memory and to the importance of Tivoli's in Dina's life that we go on about our regular, albeit seasonally-motivated business.
New Year's Eve (and the actual new year on the calendar) didn't come soon enough for us. 2008 is over, thank God! Whether we will both be able to return to a reasonably normal and familiar - routine, I can't know for sure. Dina needs to find a new job and my brother and I need to settle my mother's estate. It's hard to imagine, and even harder to say, but perhaps the change will do us both some good. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.
On the face of it, "losing" your mother and in effect becoming an "orphan," for me, and Dina being out of work for the first time in over 30 years (although for Dina, the work at Tivoli's was the least of it; the most of it was the friendships and social activities that it spawned), hardly seem like the kind of occurrences to jump-start your life in a new and positive direction, however. Maybe the arrival of a new year will help to spin us both forward a little bit. Who knows? Certainly not me.
Hopefully, 2009 will be a year worth remembering, not one, like 2008, that on two very key levels we'd both like to forget. Eventually I'm sure, we'll get to the point where remembering 2008 will bring smiles and fond memories. At present, it's still a bit early for either one of us to feel those kinds of feelings. We're still not quite adjusted to our new lives and still hurting and still mourning. Perhaps hanging that 2009 golden retriever calendar on our kitchen wall, a tradition going back nearly 30 years (Brandy, our last golden lived to age 15; Bailey, our current golden is 13 1/2) will begin our emotional rescue. Pets are good that way. They help with the healing.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.