Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Celebrate good times
“Celebrate good times. Come on!” So goes the song lyric from Kool & the Gang’s 1980 Number One chart-topping hit. There are the happy kinds of celebrations and there are the not-so-happy kinds of celebrations. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I have faced both.
A friend to whom I give credit for my life as I know it today (she is the first friend I made in Nevada County who introduced me to a service club that gave me purpose and a lifeline) recently was proposed to and eloped while on an Alaskan cruise. While this was not a first marriage for either the bride or the groom, it was fun and exciting to hear the romantic details during a reception held in their honor a month to the day of their nuptials. There were many happy stories to share — from the romantic and completely surprising proposal on board the ship, to the decision to marry right away, to the uncertainty associated with having the nuptials happen at a courthouse while the ship was docked in port.
It was a great surprise to all in attendance at the celebration when the couple shared a slide show of many of the key parts of the trip and included a video recording of the actual ceremony. We were suddenly right there with them as they exchanged vows and committed their lives to one another. I found myself becoming emotional, wiping away a tear. Celebrate good times, indeed.
Of course, I have been to many birthday celebrations, from the lowest key to some over-the-top festivities. Many friends I celebrate simply with a card or a shared beverage. Others at parties or with travel or with parties while traveling.
Birthdays remind us how quickly time passes. I will mark another birthday for one of my children (the youngest turns 22) in a week! There were years of celebrating children’s birthdays with gymnastics parties, fun parks, costume parties, theme parties, scavenger hunts and sleepovers. I know my way around birthday merriment. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, weddings, new jobs, promotions, retirements, house warming’s, graduations, new babies — you can count on me. I love to celebrate good times, (come on)!
However, the most difficult celebrations are the celebrations of life. I have already been to too many and realize there are likely many, many more to come. By definition, according to Webster, it just doesn’t work.
Cel·e·brate, verb. 1. publicly acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity.
Saying goodbye in a positive way to a loved one is easier said than done. I am pretty good when the person is in their mid to late eighties or older. I can appreciate the memories of a long life. No one lives forever and I can, in my heart, rationalize the passing when I think of the person having to live with limited mobility or other hardships. I am attending just such a celebration this week. A lovely woman I met through a service organization who succumbed to what I believe was simply old age. At 94, she had lived a full, meaningful life including a career, raising a family and a successful marriage of 72 years. Her husband is now left to find a semblance of life without her. Commemorating her life will be mixed with the sadness that comes with any loss, but I know her friends and family will be mindful of a true celebration of who she was and the life she lived.
My first mother-in-law died unexpectedly in 1995 at the age of 64. At the time, I thought that was too young — but in my relative youth, I did not have a real sense of how very young she was. We followed her wishes and held a celebration. It was filled with happy stories and many, many tears while Frank Sinatra crooned “My Way.” A fitting tribute, indeed.
Next weekend, I have another Celebration of Life to attend for a dear friend. He lost his battle with cancer much too quickly and much too young. I know the intention is to rejoice in the life he lived and he did live fully, but I will be hard pressed to find anything to celebrate. He left us much too soon with much left to do. For once, I am wishing for a traditional solemn service where tears can flow freely in a subdued setting. But it is not about me. If he were here, he would be at nearby lake, on a boat, having a beer.
I guess the lesson is that no matter your age, enjoy the days. Enjoy the moments. Celebrate good friends, good memories, and good times. Come on!
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is the business development manager at The Union. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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