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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Walk on by

The 2020 holiday season, in its modified state, came and went quickly. Already a distant memory, it was one unlike any other I can recall. My family and I enjoyed minimal gatherings of small groups. Many traditions sacrificed in the name of precaution. While some say it is a year to forget, I think of it as one I will always remember.

In retrospect, I must confess it was one of the most relaxed holidays I have experienced. Without parties or concerts or craft and street fairs to attend, I found myself with a lot of time and a surprising amount of energy on my hands. I rediscovered baking, and spent time with my adult children trying out old recipes and creating new memories. Where I would normally be found on the brink of exhaustion, I was pleasantly surprised to find rest. There really was time to just “be,” rather than not enough time to just “do.”

With Christmas behind us, we also quietly rang in the New Year – the best way to do it, as far as my husband is concerned. We alternate how to celebrate the ending of one year into the dawning of the next. When it is my year, we are out on the town or at a house party. When it is his year, we stay home. As it turns out, he was up for 2020. That helped me immensely, as I did not have any expectation to be anywhere but in our living room when old man time made way for the New Year’s baby. My spouse did his best to placate me with a lovely dinner and a bit of bubbly, but he was sound asleep shortly after the ball dropped in Times Square. I stayed up and watched “the year in review” on a variety of networks. I watched the ball drop again on West Coast time and headed off to slumber.



I stepped into 2021 fully aware that not much in the day-to-day job of living would be any different than it was in 2020, but I mustered a bit of resolve to avoid getting too caught up in the negative and to simply do the best I could to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

To that end, and just in time, my “work out for life partner” and I resurrected our almost daily walking regimen. For several years, my incredibly good friend would pull into my driveway at a “little bit too early for me” time several mornings each week. I would set my alarm a full 15 minutes before her expected arrival, brush my teeth and hair, dress, and put on my walking shoes, swallow a couple of preventative pain relievers, and meet her in the driveway. Together we would walk and talk and laugh and cry.



All of that ended abruptly a few months ago after an unfortunate incident that ended with her undergoing surgery to have her ACL reconstructed and MCL repaired. I would like to say we were on some high adventure hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or were working out some rigorous wake boarding moves, but it happened on the downbeat of Footloose. We were just dancing and she broke. In our defense, COVID had left us completely out of dance shape. There was no preseason – it had been months since we had attended any sort of fundraiser with live music. No county fair to work on our chops. No street fairs in either of our fair towns to get a little groove on. We went cold turkey — from no dancing at all to dancing vigorously — and she broke!

In retrospect, there were signs this sort of thing could happen. For instance, her need to hold onto any railing while walking down steps because she “has a tendency to fall.” Or the time we trained for a 5K and about a third of the way through, she tumbled down the trail ahead of me, ending with an Olympic worthy dismount and an icepack. Most telling, is the fact that she owns a variety of braces for most body parts, along with her own pair of crutches! Any one of those precursors should have prepared me for a breakdown up ahead. Still, (and it may be because she is nearly a decade younger than I am), I was shocked when one minute she was up and the next she was down and she was not getting up again.

It took all of autumn for her to recover from the surgery that followed, but a new year is upon us and we are back to walking again… admittedly, a bit off our pace, but still managing to complete our route.

Recently I watched an interview with brain surgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, talking about things we can do to keep our brain in shape. My mother had dementia and as I age, it sits in the back of my mind, so he had my attention. He said, in part, that while things like cross word puzzles and other games are good for the mind, it is changes in routine and engaging in a variety of activities that can delay or even reverse the progression of dementia. He said what is good for your heart is also good for your brain. But he added social interaction is key. Tough to do in these pandemic days.

The best thing we can do, he said, is to take a brisk walk with a good friend and talk about our problems. Who knew? Innately, this social butterfly and the girl with the bad knee have been on to something!

While many people would just assume forget about 2020, I want to remember it and remember it well. It has been a rough year with a lot of loss and a lot of discourse. When we get “back to normal” and can mingle, hug, meet, attend and gather, I will do so with deep appreciation and not just walk on by.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.

 


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