The floors are washed, beds made, furniture polished and the house ready for company.

This is a special occasion: to usher in the new year.

As I write this, it is Dec. 30, and in two days my old college friends, Nick and Kim and their spouses, will be arriving for New Year’s Eve and will stay with us until Jan. 2.

It was Kim’s idea back in the summer to get together for New Year’s.

My mother died last Jan. 1, Kim’s father died April 18 and Nick’s dad passed in Sept. 15 this year.

It was the final parent for each of us to die.

Kim thought it a good idea that we all be together on the first anniversary of Mom’s death to help soften the blow and try to turn a potentially sad few days into joyous ones.

Nick, Kim and I have been friends for 40 years. We know each other well and can practically communicate without speaking.

I met Nick when we both were reporters for our college newspaper at the University of Hartford, and we became fast friends. Then I introduced him to Kim, who was a dance student at the Hartford Conservatory and lived on my floor at the Hartford Seminary, which housed students from area colleges.

We three had a similar sense of humor, laughed a lot, discussed every issue under the sun, hosted dinners and parties together and decided we’d stay in touch forever.

We have done that through thick and thin. We’ve been there for each other through illness, the deaths of our parents, marriages, family celebrations, summer visits to the lake and forays to each other’s homes.

We were together in New Hampshire for Kim’s dad’s funeral in the spring and in Hartford for Nick’s father’s funeral in the fall.

This year, we have spent more time together than ever before because of those major life events.

In the summer, Kim suggested we celebrate New Year’s in Maine, knowing the first anniversary of my mother’s death is Jan. 1.

My sister, Jane, and I, spent last New Year’s Eve day and all night at Mom’s bedside, sharing her final hours and saying good-bye when she died early in the morning. It was difficult, but I now know that it also was a gift.

As the first anniversary of her death approaches, I have been preparing the house for my friends and, yes, driving my husband quite nuts.

I’ve baked and frozen desserts, made lists, shopped, scrubbed and scoured, bought new towels and spiffed up every corner of the house.

In retrospect, I realize that my purposeful, driven work was as much about staying occupied as it was preparing for company.

As I plotted and planned, I thought of my mother, who always went overboard when company was coming. She’d launder curtains, scrub floors and bake well into the night to make sure everything was just right for our guests.

“You are your mother’s daughter,” Jane, my sister, said, when I told her what I’d been up to.

And that is what I’ll remember, as Nick and his wife, Barb, and Kim and her husband, Otis, grace our house with their wonderful presence over three days.

My parents loved all of them and would be delighted to know we are together at New Year’s sharing meals, talking up a storm, reminiscing and filling the house with laughter.

By the time you read this, they will have departed and the house will be quiet again.

But we’ll have sweet memories to add to our repertoire which, if we are so blessed, will stretch well into many new years.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 28 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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