Just about this time of November, I find myself making note of the days on my calendar—of days long gone. Somehow, November hangs in the balance, because several dates hold special memories, both happy and sad.
November 1st is my mother-in-law’s birthday. Dody was special and if she were still alive, she would now be 105. We called her the energizer bunny. She had amazing energy right on up until she passed at the age of 93. I can still hear her say, “And that is all I am going to say about that.”
Between Dody’s birthday and Veteran’s Day, my mind turns to the veterans in my family. I never got to meet my granddaddy Roe, because he was killed in an accident four years before I was born; but there is a banner hanging downtown to honor his service during World War I. There is also one for my dad, who I lost on November 13 in 2003, due to pancreatic cancer. Daddy served in the Korean War.
There is a new banner on the courthouse square this year to honor my Grandmother Roe’s brother Duff Smith. Uncle Duff and Aunt Eva had only one child who died at birth, and they were never able to have any more. They left my dad and my uncle their farm, so this year we made sure his banner was added. He served in World War I in some of the worst fighting in the trenches of France.
Next year, we will add Chuck’s father’s banner. He never lived in Monticello, but his son Chuck does. Charlie Littlejohn participated in the second wave on Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion. Chuck was born during that invasion in 1944. I never met my father-in-law, because he passed away just as Chuck and I began dating over 35 years ago.
November 11 quickly turns into November 13, the day my dad died, and with it come my own thoughts of mortality. This year, I’ve pondered which day will be my death day.
Think about it! One of those 365 days will forever be your death month and day. Will it be November 15 or March 18? Or it will be December 25th! Every day of the year has a 1 in 365 chance of being the month and day on your tombstone. I try not to dwell too much on that one.
My next special date in November is the 16th, the month and day my parents married. I was their first born and probably you could find my essence that day somewhere behind my mother’s smile. I was born two years after their marriage.
Finally, the month culminates in Thanksgiving. Christmas might have been my favorite holiday when I was a child, but as an adult, I treasure Thanksgivings more. My memories overflow with decades of wonderful family get-togethers—of mama, Aunt Sandra, and grandmother Hamrick preparing a feast for a king. All three women were fabulous cooks! I can still smell the wonderful aroma of my grandmother’s chicken and rice.
My memories overflow with family stories, laughter, and pick up games like the Gobbler Bowl at the high school football field, where the entire town showed up. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, at the baptist church days later, the auditorium was full of injured church goers—broken bones and sprained limbs.
And all through the month, football reigned supreme. My high school then was one of the winningest football teams in Florida. I always thought it was due to the watermelon fields where the boys worked during the summer. It made a great weight room.
November was always a special month in this household, and now it holds so many memories. I now live in the house in which I was raised.
Thankfully, I learned early how to count my blessings, and by doing so I now lean on those wonderful blessings and let the sad parts go.
I feel fortunate that I was brought up to believe in a higher being and to lean on his everlasting arms! Through thick and thin, something inside of me holds stead when times go low.
And I can’t help wondering if this may be the reason so many young people give up today and take their lives. Are there correlations between family, spiritual teachings, and their happiness and ability to cope. Have they learned to depend on themselves more and do they have someone else to depend on when things spin out of their control?
But that is all I have to say about that!