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At the start of a new year, St. Louisans reflect and hope

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 1, 2013 - When one year comes to an end, and the next one begins, people often take stock of the past and look to the future. For many, 2012 will be remembered for major political events, such as the re-election of President Barack Obama, and the forces of nature: tornadoes, hurricanes and the oppressive heat wave that stunted crops, harmed livestock, and caused a financial ripple effect likely to be felt for sometime to come.

Locally, when the Beacon asked, though the Public Insight Network, for people to share what they will remember — or hope for — the most, such things as a good job, close family relationships, good health and political cooperation were high among their responses.

Here, in their own words, are a few readers' reflections on 2012 and hopes for 2013. The answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Patty Ryan of St. Louis:

"Surviving ischemic colitis in November and December of 2011 and learning to live with a bag through March of 2012. The bag was then reversed. My kidneys had also failed and I have been on dialysis since the end of October 2011. I had a seizure, so I had to wait six months before I could drive. I am alive. I am independent. At the moment I am sane and thankful. Life is a gift. Be joyful."

Ryan wrote of her illness: "It has caused me to be aware of how precious life is. Even our bad days can be turned to good account. So many people ask me how do I manage. I really tell them it's just taking it one day at a time. Three of those days I have two needles stuck in my fistula (a vein connected to an artery) in my left arm, for three and one-half hours. Then I have my chance to sleep, pray, meditate, talk, write or just be quiet. It may be mandatory, but that does not make it totally unwelcome.

"In 2013, I guess my fondest hope would be a return of kidney function. But I have a hunch that isn't going to happen. So I guess my second greatest hope is for peace on earth and the end of the hatred and terrorism that seems to be spreading throughout the world. If people would learn that caring is not just for Christmas but for every day, it could be a better, simpler world."

Daniel Fishback of Florissant:

"I had a solo art show in a Denver art gallery in May and June. One of the gallery employees told me that one visitor took a lot of time viewing my work and really liked the exhibit, but one painting was her favorite, 'Kenosha to Breckenridge Trail.'

"She told him she used to work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and she felt that painting belonged at the Met. Unfortunately he did not get her name for me to follow up, but those comments made my day and are among the most memorable of 2012."

As a result of that visitor’s observation, Fishback decided to present the painting to the Met by email. "They said they enjoyed seeing my work but that they weren't in a position to make an acquisition at the time.

"They asked for the name of the former employee, but I couldn't give it to them, unfortunately."

A self-employed artist, Fishback, 65, wrote that for the new year, he hopes for "a better economy, so people will buy more my paintings. I am hoping to get into more art galleries outside of St. Louis and sell more work. I also hope to attend a workshop by an artist I admire, which is very expensive and currently not in the budget."

Robert Steinman of Edwardsville:

"The heat cascade," is what Steinman will remember most about 2012.  

"I rarely ventured out in the oppressive heat. Nor did I exercise. I lost muscle tone, which led to greater joint percussion. When I ventured out on a cool evening, my stamina was 1/16 of the previous year. I used to walk for miles. By fall my average distance was 1/4 mile."

Steinman, who is 66, wrote that in 2013, he is looking forward to "minimal knee surgery and physical therapy (and) beginnings of responsible self-care."

Warren Lind of Bellefontaine Neighbors:

For Lind, the most memorable event of 2012 was that his sister had hip replacement surgery, then developed a stress fracture of the heel and was off work for seven months.

"My two adult nieces and I had to give her a lot of support and help. Even though my sister and I have always been very close, her surgery and recovery have brought us even closer."

In the new year, Lind, 64, hopes "to more fully develop my practice of Buddhism and to enjoy the outdoors more."

Donald Beimdiek of Brentwood:

Beimdiek will remember 2012 as the year when he retired "from active law practice in a major law firm after 50 years, when I am still healthy and active at age 84."

"After two weeks vacation, I started as a volunteer lawyer, handling real estate cases for clients of the Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry, which is on the Saint Louis University Campus.

"I am energized by being able to continue to use my 58 years of accumulated law knowledge without being involved in hours, billing, collections, expenses, or the business of a law practice."

Beimdiek hopes in 2013 "that my good health and energy continue, and that the daily surprises and change of events do not discourage me."

"I am concerned about the lack of collegiality in the U.S. Congress, and in our state legislature. I am also concerned that all of the electronic and digital ways that put us in touch has separated the Congress and our legislatures so they really do not know each other. The fact that speeches are made in empty chambers but are televised is sad. Our elected leaders do not even know each. The people I represent need someone in government who understands their problems and their desire to get back on their feet, with some help."

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