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March is a problematic month for me, being one of those two or three in the year in which anniversaries and memories–those both deliriously joyous and desperately sad–seem to congregate and coalesce in an inescapable, and sometimes overwhelming, swarm. My granddaughter’s birthday. Our dinner of grace and the death of Mr. She’s first wife. “Fifteen days to slow the spread” which, although I didn’t know it at the time, would signal the end of any chance for Mr. She and me to escape the house together ever again and go on the slightest or most gentle of expeditions before his death four months later. That moment when I realized that he wasn’t going to pull out of his downward spiral, and that this would be the end. More than one dear friendship lost. Much else of joy. Many other heartbreaks.
And, as always, my Dad. He’d have been 103 this month, and although it may be greedy of me to wish he was still here, it’s not entirely without precedent in my family, which Mr. She used to call “The Dúnedain.” Auntie Betty lived to just a few weeks short of her 103rd birthday; Uncle Arthur was 102 when he shuffled off this mortal coil. Numerous others family members lived well into their 90s. Auntie Pat (thanks for asking and may she live forever) will be 99 in July.
Dad died in 2007 (in September–another of those bloody awful months) at the age of 88. I was lucky to have had him in my life until then. I’d turned 53 the week before, and my sister, brother, and I knew that Dad’s time was almost up.