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Warmest Regards: Life keeps surprising us

I’m not the one who came up with the idea for this column.

It was a little 5-year-old girl who made the observation that every day offers a new surprise.

I don’t know how many surprises she gets in her young life but I sure do know that life offers plenty of surprises.

Sometimes it’s a small delight like when I went out for my early morning walk and the sky was so astonishing that all I could do was look at it with awe.

This morning when the rain cleared enough for me to start on my walk I first had to keep looking up at the mauve and charcoal sky streaked with shiny gold. The gold looked like someone had melted gold and poured it across the sky. I never saw a sky like that before.

It got even prettier when a red sun peeped through the sky making it look like it was on fire.

No matter how many times we see a gorgeous sunrise or a blazing sunset we can’t help but be awed.

There’s a really neat drum circle at our Englewood beach every Sunday starting an hour before sunset.

More than a dozen drummers provide the beat for dancers of all ages. Someone passes out noise makers, encouraging spectators to join in the fun.

The big moment comes when the drummers get in a tizzy playing faster and faster as the sun sets.

Talk about celebrating a sunset.

Everyone claps, ohhs and awes as if they never saw a sunset before. It doesn’t matter how many times we join in the happy ritual. It’s always the kind of event that picks up your spirits and makes you happy.

Not every surprise is a welcome one and sometimes we are hit with challenging circumstances. But we push through it telling ourselves this too shall pass. And it does.

One of my latest surprises is that at this late stage in life I still have to keep learning new skills.

Wouldn’t you think by now I would have learned all the skills I need? But it doesn’t work that way.

There are some skills I’ll never conquer such fixing my computer or playing fix-up with all that goes wrong in my house.

One of my friends never did that until her husband died and she was determined to learn how to fix things. She bought herself a complete set of tools and just plows through learning how to use them.

“Anything you need to learn you can learn on u-tube,” she insists.

I just have to settle for knowing there are some things I do well and some skills I will never have. It’s a long list.

But one skill I thought I had perfected was family communications.

I learned a long time age that as a parent I will do better with my daughters if I talk less and listen more.

I honestly thought it was one skill I had down pat.

Yet, here I am in my advanced years having, daughters tell me I don’t listen well.

If one daughter says that I can shrug it off. But when both cite that same problem with me I know I need to fix it.

I have to say right here and now I was a communication major in college and I’ve spent four decades interviewing others. I thought I was a great listener.

But according to my daughters I seem to have acquired the habit of commenting before they are finished speaking.

Now that I’m aware of it I think it should be easy to break that bad habit. But we’ll see.

A while back one gentleman asked me what keeps me humble. I said, “It’s easy. I have two daughters.”

One thing we are proud of in my immediate family is that we can talk about any problem with openness and honesty.

While that may mean we each occasionally have to adjust our communication style, we care enough about each other to do whatever adjusting is necessary.

My son-in-law said he marvels at how we can talk about everything. We are careful about feelings and if sometimes we do hurt someone’s feelings, we are quick to say we are sorry

I guess that’s one more thing I learned from my daughters. When they mentioned that I never seemed to say I was sorry for something I made it a practice to make sure I did.

Did you ever notice how fragile feeling are and how people who love each other dearly can nonetheless hurt each other?

If I learned anything I learned it’s that life is an ongoing learning experience. I also know I can count on my daughters to help.

For the past year they’ve been invaluable in helping me rebuild my home.

When my doorbell rang this week it was two of the construction workers who came to put my lanai back together.

They remembered feeling so sorry for me last year when they saw how devastated I was over the rubble that was once my home.

“We told you someday you would be happy again in your restored home,” they recalled.

And now I am.

Life will keep bringing surprises, both good and bad.

And I will keep feeling grateful for all those who help me survive a bumpy road and who help me celebrate every good turn.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.