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Happy New Year from Fair Oaks

This was a busy week helping old 2011 join the ages. I find that hopes and wishes of our folks mostly remain the same over the years, and I've written seemingly well over a thousand New Year columns. Wants and wishes remain the same; only the faces change.

We all pray for peace, for strife to end. We ask to be able to take care of our families. Health care is a big one for all of us. We hope our health improves, or at least maintains at the level it is as we write this.

I remember a part of Leonard Gibson's talk that he made each year to his Shady Laners when he was the administrator. He reminded them of the unpredictable, uncharged curves life throws us, that the best any of us can do or hope to do is just doing the best we can each day.

He would say, "Yesterday is history and tomorrow is not here yet. How many of you thought you would not be here this year, yet here we are, while many who had no reason to think they wouldn't be here are gone?"

This is my chance to thank all of those who so generously have shared their stories with me. How inspiring it is to read of folks you may be able to relate to. You've heard me say before that there are no quitters out here, only survivors.

Along with those who share their stories, let me thank sincerely those who read them. Admittedly, I am not immune from making a mistake now and then among the thousands of words I write each week. I appreciate your indulgence whenever that happens.

Neither story tellers nor readers would get far without the group of pros in the middle -- the folks at the Pioneer Journal. I have never worked with a staff I enjoy more.

I always hope after a story is read that it will prompt a friend somewhere to send a card, saying, "Hey, good to hear from you!" A card sent to: Fair Oaks Lodge, 201 Shady Lane Drive, Wadena, MN, 56482 will reach anyone here.

New Years come, and New Years go,

Pieces of time all in a row.

As we live our life, each second and minute,

We know we are privileged to have YOU in it!

How very pleased I am to have our current administrator, Roberta Cline, writing the finis to this last column of 2011:

"Greetings from Fair Oaks Lodge! This year, 2011, has been a good year for us. We are grateful for:

• Our residents and their caring families.

• Our staff, who show their love and commitment each day.

• Our communities, who embrace our mission and support our residents and staff.

• Our volunteers, who make the lives of our residents brighter and filled with joy.

At Fair Oaks Lodge, we look forward to 2012 with anticipation and joy in our opportunity to serve the residents we love and the communities who support us. Thank you and blessings for a joyous new year!"