In keeping with the new normal, I am adapting the New Year’s resolution. I drop the re- and go with solution. I do not want to re-anything right now. I would like all new. In 2021 I will find solutions…to problems. There is never a shortage. They come disguised as puzzles, riddles, quandaries, conundrums, mysteries, equations, pickles, challenges, and dilemmas.
Unsolved dilemmas from 2020 persist. Some problems go way back. Dreaded conundrums rise even after we have weighted them down with cement blocks and dumped them into the deepest strip mine lake. Unforeseen challenges lie in wait. This time last year, we were still oblivious of the pickles yet to come.
I cannot solve massive problems. The new president and his cabinet must tend to those. I will not tackle philosophical riddles such as the meaning of life. I have difficulty finding meaning in each day sometimes. The headaches we have with our appliances are not worthy of a solution, just a quick fix. Currently, our stove’s touch pad is on the blink and our washer is permanently out of balance. I want to find satisfying solutions to the obstacles thrown my way.
To help me prepare for 2021 I looked for examples from 2020. I discovered that last year I solved a challenge, a puzzle, and a mystery. Let me explain.
The Challenge: Empty my dad’s apartment after he moved into a long-term care facility.
In record time, my sister, Tami, and I packed, moved, or stored every antique chest, cupboard, table and chair until it found a choice spot in our children’s homes. We bequeathed vintage crocks, coffee grinders, and framed prints. Mom’s Christmas collections were ample enough to bedeck five houses this holiday. What great fortune that the antique appraiser took the most valuable items to his auction before the pandemic. In the years since my mom’s death, I had dreaded the overwhelming and emotional task of disseminating the treasures. Now I am joyful to see our children cherish the prized objects.
The Puzzle: Navigate the border closing between the U.S. and Canada in order to reunite with our son, Reed, and his daughters.
After the first 100 days of the pandemic pause, the Canadian government permitted immediate family members to reunite in Canada. My husband, Paul, and I obtained the required documents, followed the strict quarantine protocols, and mastered the subtle communication skills required for admission. Over the past six months, we have made brief visits to our house and returned to Canada under the same constraints. When so many grandparents long for reunion with quarantined family, we assemble a multigenerational puzzle.
The Mystery: Uncover the story of my birth.
I have known since I was about ten that my mom married my dad when I was three. Dad adopted me when they married. Learning this never changed my contented life or my loving bond with my dad. When I became an adult and my birth father initiated a relationship, I declined. For reasons I have not yet analyzed, I never sought details regarding my early years. The many photographs of me with my mom and extended family filled the gap. My mom would gladly have provided the narrative, but I never asked before she died.
One person who experienced those years with my mom and me still lives in my hometown. Last March I arranged to meet Mary Ann and hear the story. My mom’s best friend from 1953 answered all my questions. She had good reason to remember every detail. She was with us on the day Mom brought me home from the hospital as a newborn. That is when she received a call that her mother had died. Mary Ann and I have been linked by motherhood all these sixty-seven years and I never realized it.
Twenty-twenty showed us that we never know what difficulties will materialize. I read that inside every problem lies an opportunity. Bring on the predicaments, the jams, and the fixes. I am ready for this year’s possibilities.