2018 creeping out the door – where did time go?

Where has time gone?  A question often asked not just by older adults, but a question asked even by the young.  Catch time, if you can.  Hold it a while in the palm of your hand, every second, every minute, every moment. And use each second, each minute, each moment well.  Then let it go, with a thankful heart, as you graciously await the next second, the next minute, the next moment.

It seems just a few months ago when I was blogging about the exiting 2017 and welcoming the new year from the covered patio in my brother’s home in Las Pinas, Philippines. I was blogging while listening to passing street vendors just outside the bougainvillea-curtained window, and relishing the sing-song voices of women calling out their trade, like “Turon-turon” (deep fried bananas), or “Mais con yelo” (iced corn kernels in sweetened milk), or a man’s baritone loudly announcing “Isda-isda!” (fish), and relenting that I missed the turon because I was mesmerized by the wide-eyed fish carried on ice in a cart (see blog: Soaking in the raw ambience of a live stream market on the street ).

It seems months ago when I sat befuddled in my room in our Los Banos, Laguna home, trying to decide what to pack and what to leave behind as I readied my luggage for the flight back to California. I got tired not from packing, but from guessing the weight of one item, and another, and another. A dilemma that led to the decision to leave some clothes but carry all the gifts of native crafts, nuts and candies. (see blog: The dilemma of packing for a trip ).

It doesn’t seem long ago when I came back to Palo Alto after nearly two months of vacation in the Philippines, and visited my sister to bring her the pasalubongs (goodies from my trip), only to be confronted by an eager group of greeters who leaped out of the shadows to wish me a belated happy birthday. I had the best ice cream cake I had ever eaten. Till now, I don’t know if my sister made the ice cream herself. What I remember is that it was so hard, I couldn’t slice it with the knife. So I asked a young female guest to do the honors of slicing pieces for everyone who hardly could keep their fingers from touching the beautifully sculped ice cake (see blog: Surprise birthday parties never get old ).

Where did 2018 go? It wasn’t very long ago when I came away from celebrating Easter in a Palo Alto church, all pumped up with such hope and love and joy relayed by worshipful music, devout prayers and meaningful message, the kind that penetrate the soul. That was a remarkable celebration attended by my two friends, a Buddhist and an atheist. They were awed. Who wouldn’t be, when sacred aura permeated the air with such hope and love and joy — in the “good news” that is Jesus (see blog: A celebration to remember with joy ).

Was that just recent that I celebrated Father’s Day at Alta Mesa, at my late husband’s resting place? Seated on a cement bench nearby, I quietly listened to the soft breeze, watched the leaves rustle and swish, followed with my gaze the brown birds fluttering and swooping by as though inviting me to try my wings and happily fly to the blue sky. I wondered if they knew how high the blue sky was. Maybe they didn’t know, but they happily flew to the blue sky anyway. That celebration felt serenely sacred. I thought I heard his voice whisper love in the wind (see blog: A curious celebration of Father’s Day at Alta Mesa).

Wasn’t it just a little while ago when my daughter, my son, his wife, my grandson and I bonded by the pools of the Berkeley Claremont Hotel, where I sat entertained by watching little children play with their moms and dads under tall and short water spouts that tickled out giggles from the kids, and teased toddlers out of their seaters to trot away from the cool and strong sprinkles. It was then that my mind turned to the families desperate for safety from their homelands, fleeing from persecution and poverty. I teared up for the children of those families torn away from their parents – and there by the pools, I was watching happy, frisky children with their moms and dads. I watched my own grandson, bonding with his father at the pool. I said a prayer to God for the precious gift of family bonding and togetherness (see blog: Family bonding ).

Where did 2018 go? It wasn’t too long ago when I received my first Japanese omiyage (gift from one newly arrived), my very favorite rice cakes. Omiyage is very much like our pasalubongs, gifts upon arriving from a different place, foreign or local. I love omiyages and pasalubongs; they never fail to delight the recipients, especially when they turn out to be what one has been craving for or dreaming of … like crunchy rice cakes – or from the Philippines, pili nuts. Well, that omiyage was given to me when my Japanese friend’s boyfriend came to visit her from Japan, and my friend told him I raved about the rice cake she brought when she returned from a conference in Japan. I actually helped her prepare a party for him here at home. It surprisingly turned out to be like a mini-international food faire (see blog: Getting international and savvy with food ).

Oh yes, and then I celebrated another birthday this December. Hadn’t I just celebrated one? And just last week, I celebrated again – not that I had two birthdays in one year. Celebration started with watching Mary Poppins Returns with my daughter. I love musicals, and of course, I’d like to watch MP Returns again. Definitely a wonderful prologue to a fine birthday dinner with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson. A most sumptuous Korean cuisine at a Berkeley Korean restaurant. I don’t think I had eaten so much kimchi, pickled tofu, transparent noodles, seafood hot tofu soup and barbecued beef flanks before, as I did that night. Hmmm … it must have been flying with Mary Poppins that made me so hungry.

And there was Christmas! Hadn’t I just celebrated that in the Philippines with siblings and cousins? This time, I hosted a Christmas party attended by 27 family members and friends. I hadn’t hosted a big party at home since my late husband started to get sick about 10 years ago. He would have had fun himself were he alive, gorged delicious food, entertained with his witty and corny jokes, and engineered the rowdy gift exchange game carried for two hours by crafty and teasingly nasty steals. All that, in laughter and warm camaraderie — Jesus would have forgiven this boisterous gaiety if He was in our midst – or likely He was; that’s why we had loads of fun. Though we forgot to sing Christmas carols that night, we heard wonderful message and prayers said by a church friend right before we attacked the buffet table.

Where did 2018 go? Just hours ago, I facetimed with my daughter and greeted her and my son-in-law Happy New Year.  But right now, 2018 is still here, creeping out the door with its tail lagging behind, smiling its broadest to wish us all a happy, healthy and blessed 2019!

Through all the upheavals, anxieties and disappointments in the world, this still is a beautiful world, and each year is a gift to us all. Look through the crevices and crannies of life, you’ll find blessings there. Every year brings new blessings – and the old blessings, they grow and they snowball, as long as we have gratitude in our hearts – and love for one another, love that comes from the One who made us and put us in this world. We make the world the way it is – for the world starts in every one’s heart. May 2019 be another blessing to us all!

Linda P. Jacob