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January 20, 2005 [ More archived home pages here ]

The January Effect

For most of my adult life the month of January has been the hardest month to get through. When I lived in Chicago, it was always very cold with frequent snow or ice storms. At least here in San Diego, the weather isn't a factor upon my disposition. Other experiences now take up where the weather left off. Four people who I either loved or cared a lot about have died in the month of January.

My eldest brother died on January 25, 1984. He was only 40 years old. That was a very cold day in Chicago. It would be an event that my late mother would never recover from. Sometimes I think I'm still not yet recovered myself.

On January 14, 2000, my friend, Walter Jentsch passed away at age 78. I met Wally in June 1970 in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin. He was a neighbor of Elmer Artus, father of one of my best friends, Bill Artus. Bill and I used to go to his Dad's place almost every Spring and Summer weekend during 1970-71. We always talked and laughed with Wally during those trips. The last time I saw Wally was in 1997. I spoke with him on his birthday just a few weeks before he died. Wally was my friend to the end.

On January 16, 2000, my mother passed away in a nursing home at age 83. She had been in very poor spirits for the last several months. She didn't always know where she was or understand what was happening to her. It is hard for children to watch a parent slip away from reality at an inexorably slow pace. We are never prepared for such experiences and the ultimate death is a mixed bag of emotions for that road traveled.

Today is the first anniversary of the passing of Elmer Artus at age 88. He was the father of Bill Artus as I mentioned above. He became a second father to me, the best man at my wedding, one of my best friends. His absence is missed keenly by so many of us that knew him.

During this past year I often wished all of them were still here to talk to about what is going on in my life. Each time I remind myself that life is a circle and death and other partings are part of that grand path. It isn't much conciliation to be philosophical at such times, but what else is there to be?

I know that this annual funk for me will soon pass as February draws nigh. At least the memories of February's gone-by are clean and clear. So I accept the low times of January knowing the other eleven months of the year are mostly bright for me.


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