And let's face it, that's all that really matters, eh? Me? Anyway, here are the highlights of 2005, with a little edification (but no introspection!):
Spamalot - Got to see it on Broadway while still in previews. The entire original cast. Sat on same row, 10 seats down from Liza Minnelli (she looked pretty good, too, amazingly). After curtain call the cast led the audience in singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" as confetti rained down on us. I now put on my resume: Sang on Broadway with Liza Minnelli. Well, I did, didn't I?
The Reading Room/research staffs of the Imperial War Museum, National Army Museum, Sheffield Central Library - Each person went out of his/her way to help me find solid, interesting resources for my research on Walter. A special doff of the hat to the IWM late afternoon staff who took this picture of me, even though flash photography isn't allowed there and we had to wait until all the other Reading Room patrons had cleared out. You totally rock, people!
The hospitality of old friends - Jean and Aubrey, my English "parents," catered to my every whim while I was in England. Nay - they anticipated my every whim (because I'd never whim on 'em). From Aubrey's wonderful English breakfasts to drinkies in the back garden, Jeannie's fine slap-up suppers and evenings in front of the telly. So much laughter and stories and catching up. Even if I did have to hang out at the Walton Conservative Club. (You'd think a big buzzer would sound an alert when I walk through the door of the place, wouldn't you? But, nah.)
The hospitality of new friends - Kay and Malcolm, whom I'd only known through email correspondence over the past two years, journeyed to Sheffield so that we could compare Wildgoose notes (Kay runs the best Wildgoose genealogy website) and drive around to some of Walter's old 'hoods. We got on like a house afire, yammering non-stop. And Walter's son Ron welcomed me to his home, shared stories and photographs, and passed along incomparable information about his father. New friends are true blessings.
Walter Wildgoose - You left me an amazing story through your letters and the stories you told me all those years ago. The more I learn about you, the more I realize how lucky I am that our paths crossed that summer day in Whitehall in 1977. I don't know that I'm good enough, big enough to tell your story, but you left it to me for a reason so I will do my best, dear Wally.
Journey's End - Incredible production of the classic World War I play at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield. The final curtain came down and we in the audience were subjected to 2-3 minutes of sound effects - bombs, guns, bullets hitting dirt. Completely unnerving. Then the curtain call - actors stood in front of a huge backdrop listing WWI casualties. Not a dry seat in the house, folks. Outstanding!
Hurricane Katrina Direct Relief - Grace Davis and Victoria Powell pulled off a super volunteer effort through their grassroots Katrina relief blog. Frustrated with the complete breakdown of the government's and non-profits' ability to get real help to real people real fast, these two women did what any good Girl Scout or PTA mom would do - hook up the "doers" and "havers" with the "needees." Fast. I stand in awe.
Family - The longer I live, the more grateful I am that I have a big, loving family. Many people don't have this and I know I'm extremely lucky. So to daughter Kate, brother Bill, sister Cindy, a host of nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins (first, twice-removed, etc), the big Brennan bunch (I didn't give 'em up after the divorce!), and family members no longer around - heartfelt thanks for your love, support, stories, laughter and tears.
Those are the Best o' the Best for 2005, though the list could have continued beyond all reason. I don't do resolutions, so you will be spared that junk.
Celebrate, my friends, that we're all still here and heading hell-for-leather (whatever that means) into 2006!