Jack & Jo Chamberlains’ annual Christmas newsletter
This was the year of the numbers. (And some other stuff). I’m still smoke-free after nearly 5 years. We observed our 37th anniversary. Too late to start over. I’ve been retired 20 years, Jo 14. I turned 76. Jo 67. I, alone, think this is noteworthy, because the next time we share the same digits I’ll be ghost writing this letter at age 98. Jo, my better 2/3rds, will be a mere 89.
We had a lot of bad and sad news. Dave, husband of my former spouse, who is the mother of my children, died by his own hand Jan. 2. Everyone, especially the kids, was upset and angry. In March, Donna, wife of son Steve, lost her four-month fight with lung cancer; Cam, our daughter’s mother-in-law, succumbed to cancer after a long battle; and Dolores, a dear friend for nearly 30 years, died of kidney failure — all within 48 hours. During this time, Jo was undergoing a series of Mohs surgeries to remove basal cell carcinomas from her face, caused by radiation treatments for acne as a teenager. So far so good! Treatments resume after the holidays.
Grandson Daniel, 21, tried community college, but found it boring. So he landed a job with an electric company that contracts with regional power companies. He is climbing the utility pole of success. After Super Storm Sandy, he was in a crew sent to help restore power to New Jersey. He came home with a pile of cash. Grandson Tim, 24, graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in chemistry. He hopes to become a pharmacist. He came home with a pile of debt.
Granddaughter Jacqueline, 12, performed two shows of formal dance recitals, ballet, tap, acrobatics and hip-hop. She’s in advanced programs. We couldn’t make it because I was sick. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Her uncle Jeff reported he was highly impressed. We’re impressed that Jeff was impressed with kids dancing. The videos await our viewing pleasure.
Grandson Jake, 9, is emerging as a math whiz. He’s in all kinds of special math programs offered by Fairfax County schools. He solves complex problems his own way, outside the pedantic box, which frustrates his teachers no end. “Mental math is fun,“ he told his mom. He didn’t get that from me! But I did write papers for English classes without outlines and rewrites.
Son Jeff and his wife Tina, veteran President Obama Inauguration Watchers, invited us attend his second inauguration with them. They had braved the throng of 2 million and bitter cold for the first. This time the throng and the cold were only half as much. It was a great day!
We were deathly afraid of another four years of an even worse Governor Ultra-sound in Virginia, so we joined the Lancaster County Democratic Committee and volunteered as precinct captains. I drove and Jo knocked on doors. We worked the polls. We won! Our county is still as red as a boiled lobster, but the state turned as blue as a Tea Party tantrum.
Jo had her most successful market ever last month at the Fairfax Holiday Craft Market. When the doors opened, a woman who had bought Jo’s crocheted 3-D snowflakes last year made a bee-line to Myer Creek Creations and snapped up more than two dozen for friends and family. Snowflakes continued to move all weekend. Jo’s web site is www.myercreekcreations.com.
After nearly two years, my “Canine Force Field” continues to repel Ginger the Dog most of the time. She’s super cute, but definitely weird. We play ball in our new fenced “Dog Park,” but she’s seriously Jo’s dog. I guess I’ll keep her. Ginger, too. It’s too late to start over
Our Best Wishes for a Happy 2014