This time of year, one would normally expect my regular list of New Year’s resolutions for our city of Wilton Manors.
Unfortunately, due to the recent passing of a family member and of a beloved pet, I find myself looking back over the past year, thinking about those we have lost and who are now missing from the plans we are busy making for the new year ahead.
Writing an “In Memoriam” article at the end of the year is not my usual style. I look to write about what wonderful possibilities might lie ahead and what resolutions we might choose that will make our community and our city an even better place to call home. The recent events have put me in a somber mood, thinking about those we have lost over the past year.
However, I realize that those we have lost herald a new beginning to the next stage of our lives. In our world of black and white, right or left, one way or no way, it is hard for us sometimes to think beyond the dualistic thoughts that separate death and life.
Just over a week ago, many celebrated the Winter Solstice. This milestone along the circle of life can teach us much about how we look at death and life. They are not separate, but rather joined together. On the darkest day of the year, we celebrate the return of light. This holiday marks the ending, but also the beginning. So, as we look back at those lost over this past year, we must also look ahead to a better tomorrow blessed by their actions and teachings.
Just to mention a few close to many of us here in our Island City, my thoughts wander back to Skip Stadnik, Pompano Bill, Pat Little, Todd Andtighetti, and others. I also will include a dog named Bella, since pets usually are some of our closest friends. With some, we had many years to celebrate together, while others left us way too soon. Thinking of those who left us too soon, we must stop and think about the tragic loss of so many young lives this past year from the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Young lives ready to change the world, lost to us all, in just a brief tragic moment.
But there lies the wonderment of the circle of life and the beauty of the holiday season. Out of the darkness, there is light, the infinite nature of energy that as something ends, something new begins.
Skip Stadniktaught so many here in our community the joy and strength of community service. He leaves us with a better place we call the Island City, and his spirit and energy will serve this community for many years ahead.
Pompano Billis a legend, and his undying belief in the greatness of our LGBT community here in South Florida is well documented by his pictures and his remembered presence snapping pictures with his smile.
Pat Littledemonstrated the strength and caring of neighbors that make us a better community. Todd reminded us all to have some fun and enjoy life to the fullest. Their memories bring happiness and a smile to my face. Bella was just obnoxious to many, annoying to most, but was dearly loved and adored by a few. Perhaps she represented how we felt about a few of those who left us this past year. They might have annoyed us at times with their quirky ways. They might have seemed obnoxious at times, but through it all, we loved them dearly for being their own very special selves.
In memoriam to our local heroes, we must not only look to celebrate their lives, but also seek to be more like them and to learn from their actions. We are a much stronger community due to their legacy, and now that legacy must be put into action, bringing new energy and a stronger commitment to making our Island City better and better.
Our city faces many challenges ahead. The construction along Wilton Drive will hopefully blossom into a new and thriving city center. Our Finance Director, Bob Mays, who retires in a few weeks, will be hard to replace. Will new zoning along Andrews Avenue and Oakland Park Boulevard bring a vital new look to this long-neglected corridor that is so vital to our city’s future?
Many unknowns lie ahead as we begin the new year.
Luckily, we have a committed new Mayor, Justin Flippen, along with a new face on our City Commission, Paul Rolli, and the strength of wisdom and experience that long-serving public servants Gary Resnick, Tom Green and Julie Carson bring to the dais. Our elected officials are backed by the most amazing and committed city staff who work daily to make sure our city is the best it can be.
City volunteers and the many residents who serve on city boards, committees, neighborhood associations, and area support organizations are the topping on the cake that help make life here in Wilton Manors just better here.
Happy New Year Islanders!!