• Karen Heckman Stork

Another New Year

This is the first in my new blog series “My Sojourn in the South.”

It was only a sunny smile,

and little it cost in the giving,

but like the morning light

it scattered the night,

And made the day worth living. F. Scott Fitzgerald

And so another year, begins, another clean slate to write our own personal story, another chance at another new beginning.

I’ve lived 75 of such new beginnings, a significant rest stop along the highway of life — half way between the beginning of membership in AARP and reaching the much heralded and often missed centenary sign post indicating100 years.

As I stop and ponder the past year, I recognize that it was a particularly significant one for me. 2018 signaled many firsts in my life, most importantly my first move out of the city and state of my birth (Lincoln, NE). I moved to one of my dream locations, a city by the sea and closer to my daughter — Wilmington, NC.

Now whenever the spirit moves me and the skies are blue (or not), I can drive to the beach, park conveniently (if it isn’t summer) and walk on the beach as long as my heart desires and my legs hold out! Only one thing could improve my living situation — being able to afford to live right on Pleasure Island itself, either in Carolina Beach or Kure Beach. Then every day I would be within actual walking distance of the beach and could enjoy the soothing sound of the pounding surf as I (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise) wake up each morning and close my eyes in sweet repose each evening.

Another significant health dilemma was resolved in August of 2018 when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (CD), a hereditary autoimmune disease where eating gluten leads to serious damage of the villi in the small intestine. When I eat food containing gluten (in wheat, rye or barley) my body’s response is to attack my small intestine which prevents me from properly absorbing necessary nutrients. Therefore, I’ve had to learn to cook and eat gluten free, quite a dietary change at my age when I had all but given up baking and cooking complicated meals. But I’m up for the challenge and have learned a great deal from GF Facebook groups and cook books.

And then there was that rascal hurricane Florence which made a direct hit on Wilmington in September — also my first experience with a hurricane, although I did leave before landfall and returned to Nebraska for a longer visit to wait out the storm’s wrath. Luckily my town home community survived unscathed, while many other areas of Wilmington suffered significant damage and are still recovering.

But on to the new year — 2019. I never make New Year’s resolutions. I simply try to be a better person than I was last year — kinder and more understanding, more generous in compliments and less forthcoming with complaints. As the poem at the beginning of my post implies, sometimes it’s the littlest gesture that can make the biggest difference to someone we don’t even know. That’s why in 2019 I will walk consciously with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

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