They only show up once a year, around this time, but there is no mistaking them because of their uniforms.
Tonight will be a family reunion, of sorts, for two strangers. In fact, they have yet to meet, but it is a tradition their descendents have started many years ago.
Tonight is the night that Father Time 2012 is introduced to New Year’s Baby 2013 to pass the baton in the world’s relay of life. This time has gone by so fast; it has to be a record.
It’s been exactly a year since a more youthful 2012 accepted the job, taking it from a worn out 2011 and, after 366 grueling days, it’s time to retire and give the job to some new blood.
Heed all warnings, 2013. This job is not for the faint of heart. Oh, the stories 2012 could tell.
Days flew by in rapid-fire fashion, making many events now feel like just blips on a screen.
We had elections, insurrections, indiscretions, and in some cases, a lot of indigestion during 2012’s stay.
We have had tremendous highs and what seems like bottomless lows, all while waiting to see if we fall off a (fiscal) cliff.
But, like Sinatra says, that’s life. That’s what people say. We were riding high in April, shot down in May.
Still, we’ll remember many defining moments.
We cheered resurgence as the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals and Redskins all became relevant again.
We had moving experiences as West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12 and Maryland decided to soon forsake the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten.
We learned again that some people play fair to succeed while others are questioned for shady shortcuts just to win, proving once again sports are played for love and money.
For my money, five instances — all unrelated other than all being tragedies — have defined this time with their stamp.
These five instances — four deaths and one horrific saga — tested our resolve and abilities to make something good out of something so terrible and senseless.
They were the tragic passing of four local teenagers — Quinn Hoover, Mitchell Akers, Brendon Colliflower and Sam Kelly — who were all taken from us in unthinkable ways in a six-week stretch.
The fifth was the Penn State scandal.
On the surface, the connection of the five may be questionable, especially how the last one connects with the first four.
Each case reminded us that what we see as normal changes in an instant.
Each will be remembered for what they once stood for, while pointing us in new directions.
And the memory and impact of each — no matter how big or small — inspired people who were left behind to achieve great things.
Hoover — who died in a March auto accident — wore many hats, which included playing soccer at Clear Spring. This fall, the Blazers had one of their finest seasons, going 13-3-1 and winning the county tournament after winning just five games in 2011.
Akers — a Smithsburg athlete — died in April in an accident while working at Municipal Stadium. The Hagerstown Suns dedicated their season to Akers before winning the South Atlantic League Northern Division’s second-half title to earn a berth in the playoffs for first time since 2005.
Colliflower and Kelly — two star athletes at Williamsport who died in a May crash after attending their prom — provided huge inspiration for the Wildcats.
Colliflower was a pitcher for the Williamsport baseball team, which finished at .500 in the regular season before sweeping through the playoffs to win the Class 2A state title. That playoff run started on the afternoon following Colliflower’s funeral.
Kelly, a volleyball standout, would have graduated before this season, but the Wildcats used her memory and passion as a catalyst to the Class 2A state title this fall.
And finally, the unspeakable events centered on former coach Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation case ruined so many lives while leveling a school revered for spotless athletic programs, ruining a pristine image and tarnishing the legacy of Joe Paterno.
The players, who remained after many left during it all, banded together to go 8-4, after losing the first two games. They restored a small level of honor to the school and would have been in a bowl game if they weren’t paying for the sins of others.
What does it all mean?
Singularly, maybe nothing more than coincidence or a stretch brought on by some sportswriter who had time to think.
Collectively, though, it might make a case for the perseverance of humans, proving they have the ability to grieve, process and do whatever it takes to experience tough lessons and do better because of them.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes something so bad to create a resolve to do good.
We pick ourselves up and get back in the race.
Because that’s life, which is the reason why that baton keeps getting passed ahead.
Let’s just hope 2013 takes notes and learns from the experiences of 2012.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at email@example.com.
Parasiliti - Lessons of 2012 prove ecstasy can spring from tragedy
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)