I had New Year’s Day dinner this afternoon at the retirement community where my 94-year old father-in-law lives. Their big meal of the day is served at noon on special days and holidays. There was the traditional roasted pork and black-eyed peas for good luck. Later on, I made sure that a dark-haired man was the first to enter my house on New Year’s Day–for luck. If I had my druthers, I would have dinner tonight at the Szechuan, my old favorite Chinese Restaurant. The fortune inside today’s cookie could be seen as very auspicious. However, Mr. Woo sold it, and it has never been the same.
One thing struck me at the retirement place today. Resident after resident greeted me and everyone they met with a cheerful and hearty wish of “Happy New Year.” Usually taciturn and even curmugeonly residents were wishing “Happy New Year” right and left. These were the folks from the independent and assisted living parts of the complex–folks still able to get around and those with most of their faculties intact.
My father-in-law is amazing. At 94, he suffers from a milder form of Parkinson’s disease that has affected his gait, balance, and mobility–he walks slowly with a walker–but has not caused any of the tremors associated with the disease. Nor has the disease affected his mind. His mental state is incredible–he has maintained his mental acuity–no discernible memory loss, and his intellect and analytical capacities are still intact. He reads constantly, and when he is not reading, he is working his way through Roger Ebert’s 2008 movie guide. He told me the other day that he had reached the “F’s”–those movie titles starting with the letter “F.” This means that he has already watched all of the “A-B-C-D-E” movies listed in the book (that were available), that were “classics” or highly rated or sounded interesting to an old guy with a wide range of tastes and a quite liberal bent. Films in English and films with subtitles from any and every culture. He has taken real and meaningful advantage of the Netflix service. He does not watch TV shows. He watches videotaped and DVD movies on his TV.
I would imagine that if one reaches the ripe old age of 90 or 94, then looking forward to the new year might really mean a great deal. Something special and significant. Phew–one more down and another to go. I had never thought about the new year in this way before.