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February 2, 2013

Local residents envision ideal 'Groundhog Day'-style experiences

By Terry Hannum
The Daily Star

---- — Every one of us has an idea of what the perfect day would be like — what components would fall into place making it an incredible, memorable piece of time when everything was just right.  While each person’s definition of a perfect day can change over time, all of us can think back to to a day that we would love to return to if it were possible. 

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis and directed by Ramis, Bill Murray plays a character who is forced to keep waking up each morning to relive the same day over and over again until he learns some important lessons. A slow learner, he eventually realizes that his self-centered bad behavior negatively influences all those around him including the one closest to him: himself. He has to have that perfect day to break the cycle.

What is a day that was so perfect or so memorable that you would like to go back and relive it again and again? We asked community members what came to mind for them when asked this question. For some, memorable days had little to do with the big planned events such as weddings or a long-awaited vacation. What made the “perfect” day were times spent with family and friends; unexpected events; kindness, laughter and close connections.

College student Katherine Dixon of Bloomville said she would choose to relive Christmas 2012. 

“It was the first time our whole family (all seven of us) had Christmas together in two years,” Dixon wrote. “I would love to relive it because of the atmosphere. There is just something special about the holiday season that brings people together. Everyone was so excited to see their presents opened and to share some happiness in each others lives. I love seeing people happy, and this past Christmas, our whole family was very happy.”

South Kortright’s Debbie Coager described a day that she has already relived many times in her memory. 

“The day I relive so often is the day before my sister-in-law died,” Coager wrote. “We had a family gathering for my Mom and a friend’s birthdays. It was a beautiful day and the family was all gathered for a picnic. We had music playing and there were lots of children there. I had so much fun. Of course we did not know it was her last day with us, but I was struck several times that day on how beautiful she (my sister-in-law) looked. If I could relive that day, I would have made sure I would have told her how much I loved her, how much she meant to me.” 

Life’s milestones, such as births and deaths, often give us vivid memories and allow us to experience intense emotions. Diane Francis of Hobart shared one of her memories of a birth that she will never forget. 

“I have been blessed with many wonderful, joyful, even extraordinary days in my life that I would greatly enjoy re-living so that I could savor each and every moment and the felt emotions it is hard to pick one,” Francis wrote. “A day that really stands out for me happened just over two years ago, on Nov. 8, 2010. It was the first real snowstorm of the year and I was hosting a meeting here at the farm (La Basse Cour). Everyone was anxious as the weather turned worse throughout the day. For me, it was the day my cow Clover was supposed to give birth and a seasoned farmer told me that cows often give birth in the worst weather. I went out to the barn and what did I see but a little brown nose and two hooves peeking out. It was an easy birth, although I called my neighbor farmer to help just in case since this was my first experience. I never had a child of my own but in those moments I understood in the depths of my being what it must be like to have a baby. Paulie is now just over two years old, a gentle steer, a loving companion to his mom Clover and a daily reminder of the miracle of life for me. Come to think of it, thanks to him, I get to re-live that day every day (when I see him); it was one of my happiest.”

Witnessing an animal birth was the subject of another area resident’s “perfect day.”  

Tricia Spickerman remembered the day her Boston terrir had nine puppies. “It was an awesome evening and the birthing was textbook style,” Spickerman said. “The puppies were all healthy and the mommy did an outstanding job. I would also like to relive it and have my mommy dog back as she passed away this October.”

Spickerman also spoke to her daughter, Alicia Foy, who is serving as a drill sergeant for the Army Military Police. Over the phone, Foy told her mother that the day she would like to relive is the day when she returned home from a deployment in Iraq. 

“It was one of the happiest days because I was finally home and able to be with my family after one year away,” Foy said. “I felt that I could now let my guard down and not be so hyper-vigilant or have to constantly be looking over my shoulder in the height of danger. It was a great relief. Also, the homecoming was awesome as the Red Cross organized a simple but exciting and happy event. It was held in an auditorium with many families and friends gathered to welcome their soldiers home. The energy in the room was so amazing, happy, proud and exciting!”

Foy said that she felt a great sense of accomplishment after being in the combat zone for a year and overcoming all the hardships she had to deal with. 

Local native Janet Aldrich flashed back to a scene from an old television show when asked about reliving a certain day. 

“Your question immediately made me think of a ‘Twilight Zone’ theme that has haunted me all my life,” Aldrich said. “It was about an older woman in black riding a black horse galloping after a poor young girl dressed in white on a white horse, screaming. The young girl makes it back home in terror. Turns out it was the same person but her older self in black was trying to keep her from making the wrong choice of husbands! I vowed to try to live my life and have no real regrets. That is the vow of a young idealist. Most of us want to relive a day from the past to undo something that had bad results and I have plenty of those.” 

“But to relive a day for the sheer joy of it? Foolishly enough, I would go back to my teens, 16 to be exact,” Aldrich continued. “I remember saying to myself, ‘I love being 16.’ So I would go back to a hot summer day when I was meeting my friends at the swimming hole behind the old sawmill, age 16. I can see everyone so clearly, happy to see me. The guys especially. I swing over the deep part and drop from the rope tethered to a huge tree. I can feel the ice cold river water. And I love being alive. I would go back and relive that, just for the sheer joy of it.” 

She concluded by saying, “Past regrets are just that, they helped shape what and who we become. I would not change them.”