If T.S.Eliot had been a Mountain, he wouldn't have said that April is the cruelest month. For us Mountains, November is the cruelest month.
Work with me here. November 1968, Mountain Grandpa had a sudden and fatal heart attack. He'd been planning to go to visit my mother and dad, recently married, to have Thanksgiving at their house. Mountain Grandma made the trip alone.
November 1990. Mountain Grandma has a massive, sudden stroke at the age of eighty-five. two more months and she would have been eighty-six. At that point, we started the whistling in the dark kind of joking that they died in November so that they wouldn't have to go through another winter, as they hated winter so.
November 1992. After a struggle with congestive heart failure, Mountain Rose, Mountain Grandma and Mountain Grandpa's oldest daughter, dies. She was buried in December, but it still counts as she actually died in November. After the funeral, Mountain Daddy remarked, "November isn't a good month for the Mountains, is it?"
Mountain Daddy came from a flower of six. At this point, three of the six died in November. Mountain Hyacinth, his other sister, had died in June. Now there are two: Mountain Daddy and his sister, Mountain Lily. (Yes, we like to name after flowers. Or at least I do. ;-)
Last night Mountain Daddy called me to tell me that Aunt Lil is in the hospital, and that he's going to see her. It's a bit of a long trip, but I assumed that she would be back on her feet soon with nothing to worry about. After all, we Mountains are hardy. And Aunt Lil is well into her eighties, and has been healthy as a horse. But this morning I woke up and realized that this is the last week of October. And the next month is....November. I felt a cold chill at the realization.
Every year since 1992, as December crests and we prepare for Christmas, we have a little toast that we've all made it through the evil November. I pray that we can do it again this years.
(One of these names is not made up. Tell me which one, and you'll get a prize. If you know me IRL, you're not eligible, as that wouldn't be fair, now would it?)