Happy New Year! As most of us are all too thrilled to put 2020 behind us as it proved a challenging year for most with a global pandemic and all, I too join in the hope of a better 2021. The reality that it won’t come overnight is manifested by my Dad’s hospitalization 2 days ago and the revelation on New Year’s Eve that he is currently in acute renal failure. He suffered a stroke on June 12 this year. He has overcome many odds and has made quite a recovery, but had a ways to go. Then on Saturday things began to change. His appetite decreased. He started complaining of pain. It was then I knew for certain something was wrong. My Dad not only has a pretty good pain tolerance, he is also quite stoic. To say he is not a complainer is an understatement. So when he called out in pain, I knew something significant was going on. I will spare all the details about the first ER visit and things missed by that ER doctor. It does not really contribute to my point.
So Dad has non-COVID pneumonia and acute renal failure. Thankfully his pain is improving and we are watching and praying for his kidneys to do the same. Today what he wanted the most was to have his traditional New Year’s Day meal with black eyed peas and cabbage.
This is an age old tradition to have good luck and prosperity for the upcoming year. It was something he has always done. My mom (his ex-wife) is his current caregiver and had prepared it for him. We just had to confirm with the nurse he had no dietary restrictions. Once we did, as I was visiting him today, I was able to meet Mom in the parking lot (only one visitor allowed in the hospital a day due to Covid restrictions as cases are peaked now) and get his requested meal and take it to him. He perked up and enjoyed his meal! It was good to see him so happy! It was good to see him actually wanting to eat as his appetite had been poor for a couple of weeks.
What strikes me the most as I reflect on this moment is this: while a clean slate, a fresh page, a new year is something we all want, need, and even crave there is something to be said about holding on to what is good from the past.
Out with the old and in with the new is too simplistic and not really gratifying. There is so much old that is valuable and even necessary. It feels like tradition is an endangered species. Cue the Fiddler on the Roof opening music. But seriously, Tevye is right,”Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!”
We are to seek and hold fast to what is good! This means hold onto what is good. Hold onto the old that is good as we seek what is new that is good. We must quit throwing the baby out with the bath water.
For today tradition in the form of a simple meal brought a 70 year old man who has worked hard all his life to provide for his family, who endured a divorce and all the aftermath, who care for his second wife until cancer took her too soon from him, who is spending out his days with a mind that is alert and a body that shows the toll of time. Today tradition brought some small joy to a man I love who has had a pretty rough week.
Yes we want to turn loose the ties that bind and break the yokes of oppression. But let us not be so hasty to cut every tie and chain only to find later that one of those chains was actually an anchor.
Happy New Year!