January always makes me blue
Itís fair to say that January is not my favorite month.
Itís been well-documented that I am not a fan of cold weather, and itís not unusual for me to take ill this time of year. That hasnít happened the past couple of winters, though, and I wonder if itís because Iíve become proactive about getting a flu shot every fall.
But the real reason that January is a difficult month for me is more serious than that. For me, itís a month of personal loss.
Sunday was the 15th anniversary of my motherís death, on Jan. 19, 2005. Not quite nine years later, my former wife died on Jan. 11, 2014.
My mother was my hero. She gave birth to me before her 15th birthday, against the wishes of her own father from what Iíve been told. Iíve often thought about what kind of extraordinary courage that must have required, but the truth is Iím sure that I canít even begin to imagine.
My mother was incredibly brave. She was also strong as iron and smarter than anyone Iíve ever known. She had an eighth-grade education, but she was a voracious reader and she loved to learn. She had plenty of book smarts, but she also had common sense. She could read people and she knew who could be trusted and who couldnít.
She also didnít know the concept of backing down when confronted with a situation she believed was wrong. She met those situations head-on and heaven help anyone who attempted to interfere with that.
Naturally, I was devastated when cancer took her from us at the age of 50. I still think of her every day and thereís always a touch of sadness, even 15 years later. But I also have come to recognize that thereís an awful lot of my mother in me. Iím eternally grateful for that, just as Iím grateful that, because of her courage, she left a living legacy that will never end. Sheís in my sons and my brothers and my nieces and nephews. Sheís even in my grandchildren, and sheíll be in their grandchildren, too. She will never be truly ďgone.Ē
My ex-wifeís death in 2014 took me by complete surprise. We had a very complicated relationship ó too complicated for me to explain in 100 columns. We had been divorced for more than two years, and I hadnít seen or spoken to her for four months when I got a call from a friend on a Saturday afternoon telling me that she had died unexpectedly in her sleep that morning.
I was surprised how hard that news hit me. I tried, very briefly, to pretend I wasnít shaken by it, but that lasted less than two minutes.
I was sitting in my truck in my driveway when I got the call, and I stayed there for a good while, sobbing silently.
In the end, her death was a wake-up call for me. It forced me to take stock of my own life and realize how unhappy I was, working 60- and 70-hour weeks with no end in sight and no real reason to stay where I was. In part, her death is what led me here.
Itís a difficult month, but itís a good life. Iím grateful for that, and grateful for the people whoíve helped shape it.