April is not the cruelest month. February is.
A year ago, on Valentine's Day, my mother died. This year, on Groundhog Day, my father told me that my stepmother had succumbed to cancer.
We're still reeling.
Pat married into our family almost twenty years ago. I did not like her at first - was determined, actually, to find something terrible and deal-breaking about this woman who was marrying my father. (I may be a bit of a Daddy's girl. Or a lot. But still, I was eighteen, and a hot mess of hormones and craziness.) I don't remember where we were when I first met her, only that she was kind, and smart, and not interested in being my mother at all. Peaceful is a good word - Pat brought peace wherever she went.
My brother and I soon stopped thinking of her as 'that woman' and began thinking of her as Pat.
Mum (for she became that, too) was a listener. She would set something up so she could be doing something (ironing, weaving, gardening, petting a cat or two) and listen, really listen and offer comments and sooner or later you'd realize that not only did you feel better, you'd figured out what you were going to do.
Mum believed if you were surrounded by beautiful things, beautiful parts of you came out. The house she and my father lived in is gorgeous, surrounded by flowers, filled with interesting and rare objects. She could tell you the history of every little thing in that house. She made it a home.
She made people happy just by being there, and we will remember her forever.
Also, I think it might be prudent for my family to stop celebrating holidays once and for all.