All the world’s a stage, as Shakespeare famously wrote in “As You Like It,” and all the men and women merely players.
He noted they have their exits and entrances, and that is one of the things I have been thinking about as I contemplate the year that is drawing to an end.
There have been some unhappy exits this year.
I lost a brother and sister-in-law in a short period.
My sister-in-law was a kind and generous person who died from a complicated mix of medical issues.
My eldest brother cashed in his chips this year after a long stretch in the intensive care unit at Mayo clinic.
He was admitted to the hospital the day after his wife’s memorial service. It was especially sad for my nieces losing both their parents just a few months apart, but they are strong young women, and they are doing well.
The loss of my brother was especially difficult, partly because he was the first of our siblings to die, and partly because he was such a positive force.
He was an enthusiastic supporter of his family and friends, and celebrating our accomplishments gave him great joy. He was the kind of guy with whom I always liked to share good news, because I knew he would be as excited as I was (if not more).
Even though we didn’t see one another as often as we may have liked, I always knew he was reading my columns, because he frequently emailed comments about things I had written, and shared links to his favorite columns on Facebook.
I miss him, and I think of him often, especially at this time of year when he would have been busy baking hundreds of dozens of cookies to package and deliver to his many friends.
Another character that crossed my path this year was Allie Cat.
During her brief stay, she endeared herself by meeting me at the door whenever I got home, following me around the house, and sitting with me whenever she could.
It was only about five months from the time I picked her up at the shelter to the time she developed liver problems which caused me to make the difficult decision to have her euthanized.
I stayed with her until the end, and although it made me sad that her health problems took her so young, I was able to take some satisfaction in the fact that when I brought her home from the shelter, I was able to give her a happy and loving home in which to spend her final months. She was definitely the queen of her castle.
There have been entrances this year, as well, and I have enjoyed getting to know some new characters as I traveled along my way.
Others have popped in and out during the past year, as they often do on stage and in life.
I especially enjoy seeing old friends the kind who can be absent for months or years, and then take up the conversation right where we left off, as if no time had passed.
In addition to the entrances and exits of people, I have had some new experiences this year, including a pilgrimage to the North American Bear Center in Ely.
There is much to see and learn in this world, and we should continue to explore as much of it as we can while we are able.
The departures of some who died too young serve to remind us that nothing is certain, and we must live today because there are no guarantees about tomorrow.
Looking back, it has been a good year, all things considered.
I started 2016 by moving into a new bachelor estate with the help of many kind and generous friends.
I have added a couple cats to keep me on my toes and add life (and a fair amount of mischief) to my home.
There’s no doubt I have much for which I am thankful, and I’m excited to begin a new year and see what’s around the next curve in the road, and the next bend in the river.
I will hope for more entrances than departures in 2017, but these things are beyond our control, and we must remember to make the most of the opportunities we have.
All the world is a stage, and we should experience as much of it as we can before our final curtain call.