Editorial: What’s in a date?

According to somebody somewhere, on December 31 we are supposed to be full of happiness and looking forward to a clean slate and improved lives beginning at 12:01 a.m. on January 1. Some people even try their best to live up to their New Year’s resolutions. Others don’t even make an attempt. I believe we should do the best we can all year long, not just starting on Jan. 1.

I am the first one to admit I need to work a lot harder on both my personal and professional lives. Like they say, there is always room for improvement.

January has always been a tough month for me and this one didn’t start out any better. I lost a friend and former co-worker when Skip Stone passed away on Jan. 8. He was a lot of fun and taught me what it is like to give back to your community and to your friends. And, a day doesn’t seem to go by where I don’t hear about someone else who is facing their own personal challenges for reasons completely out of their control. That’s when I begin to wonder who is really in control of our destiny.

Growing up my best friend was my horse, George. I don’t think I would have made it through my adolescence without him. I would sit for hours in his stall and pour out my deepest thoughts. He never judged me, but only listened. And even though he didn’t give me advice, I was able to figure things out, sometimes for the best and sometimes not. But, I learned to be independent and take responsibility for those decisions, whether good or bad, and handle the consequences as they came.

The day I lost him I lost a little bit of myself. I was only 21 and we still had a lot of miles to travel together and an amazing show career ahead of us. But that all ended on Jan. 15, 1976 when he slipped and fell in our arena during one of his playtimes and never got up.

A few years later a close friend and co-worker was killed in a vehicle accident on Jan. 15. I was supposed to be with her that night. A large 4x4 truck hit her car and killed her instantly. We spread her ashes in the ocean at sunrise on Coronado Beach.

But, the toughest day was when my dad died unexpectedly on Jan. 15, 2009 in Trinidad, CA. I talked to him every weekend and saw him as often as I could. Looking back of course that wasn’t often enough. My mom, who I loved beyond words, had passed away a couple of years earlier. She hadn’t been well for a very long time and I think she was truly ready to be in a better place.

So, today, Tuesday, Jan. 15, look around you and give all those you care about a big hug because tomorrow they may not be here. And, if they aren’t within arm’s length pick up the phone (no texting or emails) and tell them you love them or take that drive and give them a hug in person. My mother-in-law calls it taking a mini-vacation when you hug someone and I think she’s absolutely right. We all need a vacation once in a while. Make it a good, long one.

Susan Gardner