Didn’t have a date this New Years. Didn’t need one. As the ball dropped at Times Square I sat 13 1/2 miles away, alone on a bed  watching Jerry Lewis on TV and a beautiful one-year old on a monitor.

There was a calm within me as I sat on the plane last night. Waiting to lift off toward Cleveland, eyes out the window, I thought not just of the weekend past, but the last twelve months as well.

I was at peace.

There’s this thing about my eyesight lately: I only see good. 2011 then, will be remembered as the year Matthew and Lucy showed up and Max crawled then walked but was never NOT smiling.

It will be the year of The Handshake (with Jason after a marathon golf match), and the year I kissed Hailey (on her forehead, just above those blue eyes).

It will be remembered as a time of medical progress for my brother H and machatin Stuart and a wake-up call to me.

It was the year Hal turned 60 and Harriet turned 80 and Liz and Lindsay got engaged.

It was the year priorities cemented. Didn’t see Vegas once, or Mountaineer for that matter. Chicago, though? Got there thrice, and New York: I’m out of fingers.

(And out of love, for that matter). In a year whose codeword was “grandchild” I found little time for magic, yet survived. For twelve months, anyway, I escrowed my life-long dream of falling in love like Kermit did for Miss Piggy in the first Muppet Movie, and for twelve months, as well, I overcame a two-year poker weakness for nut flush draws.

More importantly, it was a time of unending love from unbelievable friends. From Saturday breakfast with Jacobson to Wednesday mornings with the boys in the back corner at Corky’s. From John who sponsors me in recovery to the trio I get to sponsor.

It was the year my brother got the Lifetime Achievement Award at AG and the year I carried leaves from Max and a little pink bonnet from Lucy.

And it was a year of athletics, from a second straight appearance at The Jack Roth Run in Columbus (where Leslie Shafran Topus DIDN’T slow me down) to my return to the track of Team Pearl on the shores of Jones Beach.

The year that passed brought personal growth.  Sensing my strengths, studying my defects, I saw myself even clearer than before.  Inner weaknesses die slowly and crevices of insecurity doubtless remain.  On balance though, I like myself and treasure my comrades.  Enveloped by family and friends willing to hold a mirror to my face, I keep paddling in a realm that only gets better.

In 2012 I’m the best father I know how to be, whatever that is.  Watching others though, I hope to improve.

Mine is a simple world.  I march with responsibility to my effort but not for my outcome.  I can look the world in the eye.  In a cosmos of bittersweet, it all tastes good to me.  Even the bad.  Tucked in the womb of acceptance, I taste serenity.  Laughing at myself, comforted by all the runs, hits AND errors, I live a climate where regardless the weather, I feel sunshine.

Just past midnight last January First I was navigating I-71 North after wasting five hours on a non-date. Staring at snow on the windshield I  strained to see the road ahead. I was exhausted.  This January 1—just 365 days later—it was again  just past 12.  Staring at the monitor, I wasn’t straining, but glowing.  Wide awake, I saw a bundle of joy on the screen, sleeping blissfully.

And in him, I saw the road ahead.

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