It’s the last week of the year and here I am, thinking about New Year’s Eve.
It used to be a major event in my life when I was very young. We got to stay up late to watch for the New Year to come in, that is, if we could stay awake. My folks would often play cards with their friends, and we would have one can of pop, and potato chips, or more likely popcorn.
One tradition over the years was that my mother’s oldest friend, Howard, would call her up to wish her Happy New Year. We could always count on him. Howard was one of those people who was always happy, telling jokes, making people smile. His wife of many years, Jeanette, called him “Howie” until he became outrageous and then it was “Howard.” When I was a teenager I babysat for their children, Gayle and Jerry, on Saturday nights. What I really loved was that they belonged to the Doubleday Book Club and so I got to read a lot of adult fiction. My mother didn’t know that, fortunately.
After I became an adult, married and moved away, Howard started to call me on Dec. 31st, no matter where I was. That was probably because I was the oldest. My children still remember to this day. As I traveled all around the country he sometimes had to really work at it to find me. It wasn’t like today where we keep the same phone numbers. I even changed last names. When I was out west in Colorado he struggled with the time differences. But he always managed to find me no matter where I was, and he was a faithful and stalwart friend.
The last time he called me was at our farm about 20 years ago. By now he was in his 80’s. He had been calling me for over 40 years on New Year’s Eve, and our friendship has never been forgotten. New Year’s still brings a smile to my face whenever I remember Howard. He truly cared about what happened in my life, no matter what! His spirit remains with me always throughout my days.