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Dear Friends (and strangers who happen upon this page),
So here it is finally 2000. I'm a little late in getting this yearly letter written this time around, but for good reasons for once.
I once heard somewhere the proposition that what you are doing when the New Year starts is what you'll be doing most that year (or something along those lines). This adage certainly came true for me in 1999. I began the year sick as a dog (with what turned out to be bronchitis and sinusitis), and I was indeed sick several times during the year, more frequently than I can remember being in a while. I'm the first to own up to how these illnesses had emotional causes--usually they have manifested when I'm very angry/upset/overwrought about something and have no outlet for it (the lack of outlet being the normal state of affairs). Being able to just let go of things has never been my strong suit, but I'm convinced that I really need to learn it lest it kill me. So this is a challenge that I'll be continuing to work on in the coming year.
I'm not going to catalog every sickness that I had, but the most significant illness was the one requiring me to have surgery for the first time in my life. Namely I was found to have a large gallstone and had to have my gallbladder removed. I had actually been having the pains off and on for a couple of years, but I just figured it was the usual stomach problems or an ulcer and figured it wasn't worth checking out. I had no knowledge of gallstones or what the gallbladder was for, so I didn't know to suspect that. I've certainly learned a lot in the process. If any of you are having abominal pains that don't respond to the usual antacids and such and that occur after eating fatty foods, please be aware of this problem. The surgery went absolutely fine, and because it was done laproscopically, the scarring is quite minimal. While I was awaiting the diagnosis and then the surgery, I had to eat a low-fat diet, which was a major challenge for me (junk food being my only vice, I overdo it). I learned that I could indeed do it although it sure wasn't easy. I lost fourteen pounds during those few weeks (which of course I've since regained). Hopefully someday I'll be able to incorporate some of what I went through and eat healthier more regularly.
Going chronologically in the year, the next major event was the death of my dear Aunt Margaret, who had been battling breast cancer for more than two years. She was the most loving person anyone could hope to know. I kept thinking at the funeral that she was always the one who would be comforting everybody, and so her loss is felt even more profoundly. I'm glad I was able to see her before she died, first off the previous November and then just a few weeks before she died. If you are religiously inclined, please lift up a prayer for her husband, my Uncle Mike, who has lost the love of his life. If you are philanthropically inclined, please consider making a donation to find a cure for this horrible disease. Both of their daughters are also afflicted (luckily their prognoses are better, though). Damn disease.
Continuing with the theme of illness (I didn't plan it this way, I swear!), Kate's mother Lois had knee replacement surgery in the Spring, so we spent a fair amount of time helping her. I took her to her physical therapy appointments until she was able to drive again, as I was the only one available during the daytime. I actually enjoyed doing this, as it gave us some one-on-one bonding time which we hadn't had before. Having seen a little bit of what the recovery was like, I don't envy her at all, as she has to go through the same thing with her other knee sometime in the future. Ouch. But she's up for it when she's able to schedule a good time to do it. The improvement with the new knee has been dramatic.
Even though we were busy and had a lot of stress during the year, Kate and I did manage to sneak in a few vacation trips. In June we went down to Knoxville to visit my family and to see the opening of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (and the exhibition WNBA game that was part of the opening events). The Hall of Fame induction ceremony was very moving--over and over these women expressed how amazed and grateful they were finally to get this recognition (for themselves and the others). So next time you're in Knoxville, check it out. Later in the summer we went to NYC to see the WNBA All-Star Game. Many of you know that I really do not like NYC, so it took a really special thing to get me to go! We've indeed become avid fans of the league. Here's hoping it succeeds and that the Celtics get a franchise down the road!
Another significant event of the summer is that I participated in the Bristol 4th of July Parade for the first time, riding shotgun as Kate drove the truck hauling the Alliance's float. Temperatures were near 100 most of the day, so it was really miserable (though not as much for me as for those in costume on the float!) I salute all who participated in it, as it's an important tradition of visibility for the Alliance.
Speaking of the Alliance, I have told many that the work expands to fill all time available and then some. Although we had next to no legislative battles during the year, we still were kept busy working on issues like hate crimes, the Boy Scouts, and the possibility of starting a community center (this prompted by our having to find new meeting/office space twice in about six months!) We also held an educational forum about transgender issues, which is something I had wanted to do for years. The work on all the issues is exhausting and neverending, but it really is worth it in the end--it really does change so many lives. The things happening here finally drew the attention of the infamous Fred Phelps clan, who picketed here in November. Our response was low-key and peaceful, and as a result they got little attention from the media for the most part--victory for us!
Another defining event during the fall was the unexpected death of U.S. Senator John Chafee. The whole state went into mourning, myself included. I think I was particularly affected because it reminded me of my Aunt Margaret--they both died before they were able to enjoy their retirement years with their families. By happenstance, the morning his death was announced, I had been taking foliage pictures at Lincoln Woods with the digital camera so I could share the beauty of a New England autumn with my friends in places without fall colors. So now I think of Sen. Chafee when I see those pictures. It's fitting in a way because he fought hard to protect and preserve the environment. So take a look at the pictures and think of him.
Fast forwarding a bit, we had special plans for New Year's: Kate's family made reservations years ago for DisneyWorld for the New Year's celebration. The whole immediate family and part of the extended family went, and we really did the whole experience--several shows and such along with playing in the various parks. We brought in the New Year in the Magic Kingdom, which was an amazing experience with all the people, the fireworks and everything. We had a wonderful time and plan to go back to DisneyWorld more often. I've decided it's extremely important for me to fit more recreation into my life, lest I burn myself completely out. So if the old saw about what you're doing when the New Year comes in is true, I'm in good shape because I was having great fun when 2000 arrived. So that is sort of my resolution for the year ahead--to enjoy myself more, do more recreational things, take more trips, etc. Being that I'm late getting this letter written, I can report that thus far I'm doing pretty well. Going to Brown University women's hockey games is a lot of fun and has helped a lot. I've already made one quick trip out of town and am contemplating others. I'm doing my best not to be overwhelmed with all the craziness and busy-ness around me here in Little Rhody. My wish for all of you reading this is that you also find the balance you need in your lives to be happy and healthy in the new year and beyond.
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