I am not a huge fan of October. It seems silly, maybe even irrational, to be in opposition to a month – which, after all, isn’t a tangible thing. October is just a period of time, 4-ish weeks of full-blown autumn; that beautiful slide into winter. There’s nothing like October in most places around the U.S. – nothing like a hike in the freshly cool weather, a darker color spectrum rising, Halloween and the early stirrings of “the holidays.” At the beginning of October, sometimes I forget my own dislike in favor of those hikes and the beginnings of sweater weather.
I’ve been a little absent lately due to a few family issues, and most recently, the death of my Great Grandmother Estelle. It’s (most of) her children you see in the picture above – taken in the 1950s or 60s, I can’t quite place it, including my Grandmother in the center. Grandmother Estelle, as we called her, was 100 years old when she passed away – a lifetime that included 7 weddings, 6 children, a solid 10 decades of ineffable change both personally and internationally. I’ve always known that I was lucky, as a kid–and especially as an adult– to have been raised with frequent visits with not only my grandparents, but several great-grandparents. I think I was even luckier, that I was related to this woman. There wasn’t a day, until the end, that she wasn’t fully dressed and ready to go, that her bed wasn’t made, that she wasn’t fighting for her family, fighting for life and enjoying every moment. And when it came to that great Southern past time, telling it like it is, she excelled mightily.
One of my favorite moments from her service last week was about how independent Grandmother was. She outlived several of her husbands (and with one called Hollywood, and at least one she won’t admit even happened — she was a veritable trove of stories) and would frequently take off on vacation without telling anyone; it wasn’t unlike her to go out and do the things that she wanted, when she wanted, because she was unafraid. She pushed through the tough times in her life, and that came not only with outliving several husbands, but also two children, among other family members, well into her older age. She was a force and the loss of her physical presence is a big one.
October has had a way of claiming those close to me for most of my life and though it might not make sense, it’s still a segment of time I always wish would just move on. Ultimately, who we are is a lot about who and what we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. I’m glad to have known and loved Grandmother and her influence on my life is important. And now, I reset to doing what she did best – being unafraid to go out on my own.