"So how do you celebrate the New Year?" I asked the elderly man.
"I stand on the edge of time and wave good-bye to yesterday," he replied.
I was in search of something again. It certainly seems I've been searching for something all of my life. I am happy to tell you that I have in fact found most of what I've been looking for. This time I needed a new perspective on how to face the new year. So I set out in search of a "Father Time" and I found Fred.
I wanted someone with more experience than I. I'm fifty, so I needed someone who had seen at least 80 new years in their lifetime. Along the way people told me that they never had any use for the New Year celebration.
"It's amateur night!" one person told me. "All the fools who don't normally drink, head out to make up for it all in one night."
"I sleep through it all," another person told me.
"I sit quietly and watch Dick Clark on television, then head off to bed," still another said.
But Fred, at 85 told me, "I stand on the edge of time and wave goodbye to yesterday."
He grabbed my attention.
"Picture for a moment that you are leaving on a cruise. If you've never been on one, perhaps you remember "Love Boat." he said.
"Well, I haven't been on a cruise yet, but I do in fact remember the show "Love Boat." I replied.
"The difference here is on New Years Eve, I'm not on the boat. I'm standing on the dock or the shore line waving goodbye. After 85 years I've seen quite a bit in my life. I've gained so much and lost much along the way. But I'm happy to say I've gained more than I lost," he said with a slight grin. "The new year comes rushing toward us from east to west and like riding a surf board I ride the wave of time. Just as the clock is about to strike midnight I turn toward the west and picture the old year in my mind. There standing on the edge, I see old friends who in the past year have left this world. I count among these friends some of the famous people who have touched my life with their writing, music, comedy or bravery in leading this world into the future. Oh sure, they don't know me. But I feel they are a part of who I am today," he paused for a moment perhaps picturing a few of them in his mind.
"I also see things that represent events that occurred in that year that I treasured. Perhaps a bouquet a flowers that someone sent to me on my 85th birthday. A baby representing another grandchild I've been blessed with. In the background I see familiar faces of those loved ones who throughout my 85 years have long since crossed over. Even though they are not a recent memory, they are forever a part of my cherished gifts from God," he stopped now.
Then reaching into his inside pocket of his suit coat, he pulled out a wallet. Slowly opening it he found what he was looking for. Holding it in his shaking left hand he turned toward me and said, "In the very front of all these people I see her."
I held his hand and wallet to steady the picture. There in a yellowed , cracked and wrinkled photo pocket was a picture of a beautiful young woman. The clothing and hair style told me that this was taken many years ago.
"She is beautiful, my friend," I said.
"She is my wife, Millie," he said softly. "I put her in charge of all those memories. I believe she gathers them all together for me every New Years Eve and then stands proudly, front and center, and helps me to remember all of my blessings."
He then folded and tucked the wallet back into his coat.
"This tradition all started years ago when we first got married. She taught me to appreciate and honor the past in this way. We would stand arm in arm and wave goodbye as a symbol of unity. The year I lost her was the most difficult year for me. In my loneliness I turned toward the west and saw her there. As the clock struck twelve I fell to my knees and begged for her not to go. I could see her leaning toward me, hand extended and smiling. On the stroke of the last chime on our mantle clock she faded off as she waved goodbye. But every year since then I have grown stronger knowing that in reality she never left me at all. She just takes over on New Years Eve and helps me to get through it until one day I will stand along side her and wave goodbye to forever."
"You seem to be okay with it all," I asked. For he didn't even shed one tear as he told me the story.
"Oh, I am. You see the other part of saying goodbye to one year is saying hello to yet another. I turn around in that split second and welcome with excitement and anticipation all the greatness of a fresh new year. This is not just another turn of a calendar page. It is the greatest gift of all. God has permitted me to enter into another year. If the new one is going to be a filled with as much joy and love as the old one, I must be prepared for it. My goodness, what greater gift could be given to you, but the gift of life?"
And so my friends as 2008 rushes past me on New Years Eve, know that I will be standing and waving goodbye to those special loved ones who will stay behind. But know also as I turn and face 2009 in that split second I will imagine each of you standing there with me. I see you all standing there with open arms, and filled with child-like curiosity and anticipation of all the greatness , joy and love 2009 will bring.
Join me as I stand on the edge of time and wave goodbye to yesterday and welcome tomorrow eagerly.
"I Believe in you!"