Thursday, January 09, 2014

January reflections

Belated New Year greetings to all. I had intended posting this piece earlier but I saw that my son had introduced his New Year post on The Dabbler with allusions to Janus, just as  was intending to do here. Now that his post is history, I've decided to use mine!
Many people find January a gloomy and depressing month but I like the opportunity to look back and towards the future at the same time.  The New Year isn't so much a time for making Resolutions, (pie-crust promises as Mary Poppins might say),  as for getting things into perspective.

For many years, January was a sad month for us: my father died on January second; a few years later my younger sister, barely thirty years old, died on January twenty-third and, just a few years later, my mother died on January twenty-fourth. I used to dread the coming of January with its feelings of loss and grief and I couldn't bear New Year celebrations. As time has passed, though, happy memories have taken precedence and I find it is good to have this specific time in the year when I look back on the lives of my parents and sister and recall all the positive aspects of their lives. My brother and older sister and I share funny stories from our childhood - there is nothing like laughter to put things into perspective: it overwhelms sadness just as light overwhelms darkness.

I always think of Janus on January 23rd. Not only is it the anniversary of my sister's death but also the day on which I twice had life-saving surgery, the same day in consecutive years. As anyone who is "in remission" knows, there is always an element of fear as check-ups and anniversaries approach but the image of Janus reminds me that each year I have further to look back on; years filled now with precious memories. Hope, like laughter, is a powerful antidote to gloom.

I'm going to invent a new word and describe the opening of a new diary as Janusistic. I sit with last year's diary and transfer significant dates to the new one, then I take out all the appointment cards that I've kept in the back of the old one while waiting for the new one to arrive.  What an opportunity to practise saying, "Goodness, is it so long since ......." at the same time, recognising that the teeth, feet, eyes and ears are all another year older!

Filling in the dental appointments is the task I like least.  I think of all the money I pay to be tortured! Not by my lovely dentist, I must hasten to say, but by the hygienist who offers spurious excuses for the agonising scraping and poking at my poor ivories and gums; it takes days for me to recover. On a brighter note, the waiting room always has tubs of sample tubes of different toothpastes. I like to pick up a few as they are the perfect size for overnight or weekend visits. One such sample intrigued me: the manufacturer noted the herbal ingredients and stated that many people found that, after using the toothpaste for14 days,  they quite liked it. I don't know which PR firm they employ.
It was 6 January 1989 when we moved from Hampshire to Devon. Looking back over the 25 years that we have lived in this house, we see many changes. We arrived here with a young son and daughter, they are now grown  with children of their own. The quiet village has grown into a busy thoroughfare, taking traffic to the beaches. We have been talking about leaving for several years and perhaps 2014 will see that happen. The great de-clutter has begun! Grandchildren Millie and Ben are very keen to have us move close to them, in fact so close that they want to build a house for us in their garden. They spent hours designing the ideal home for us:
It is a house with many doors and windows. Ben chose the shapes and colours, Millie did the drawing. There are enough rooms for us to entertain everyone we know. I can't wait to get there!
I know that the weather is a real problem for many people, this January but I hope that the freezing conditions in US and the floods in UK will soon be over and that everyone has a good year ahead.


  1. This was so beautifully written. I felt sad for your losses. I have a month like that - April, but then we got married in that month and our son was born then, and our grandson is likely to be as well, so it has become a happy month.
    I felt sad too about your home. But I love that the kids want you nearby and have imagined such a lovely house for you!! I bet some smart architect could fashion it after their design!!

    1. I'm glad that April has become a positive and happy time for you, Nan. People always say at sad times that life goes on, which is hard to believe when you are grieving but it does. I like the opportunity to remember that when January comes around.
      How exciting April will be for you this year, I'll be watching for good news!


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