06:04:56 pm on
Friday 17 Nov 2017

The Calendar
AJ Robinson

This past weekend, Jo Ann, my wife, and I worked on cleaning up our home office. It was quite the dusty dirty task. We had a lot of junk and paperwork and things to get through.

By the end of our effort, I took three large garbage bags to the dumpster, which felt very good. It meant we got a lot of trash out of the house. When we were all done, she pointed at an old calendar on the wall and she asked if I wanted to throw it away.

Her question was perfectly valid. After all, a calendar is the sort of thing you buy once a year and it usually has a favourite theme. I often get one with pictures of Martha’s Vineyard or maybe a Star Trek or Doctor Who and sometimes a calendar with dogs or puppies on it.

This particular calendar featured pictures of cities in Italy, which likewise made sense for me. It was open to the month of November and I explained that I did not want to get rid of it yet. It didn’t matter to me that the calendar was out of date, it was for 2015, I still wanted to keep it, and keep it open to that month.


It was when by brother, Steve, died.

That calendar, from 2015, still hangs on the wall. Two dates have circles around them: the sixth and the eighth. The first was a very special day for all of us: the dinner to celebrate my mom’s ninetieth birthday. We went out to dinner that night at her favorite restaurant. It was a sumptuous affair, yet also subdued. Steve wasn’t there. We knew he was home, in bed, and gravely ill. At this point, we knew his life was days long, perhaps hours; all we could hope for was that he was not in pain. I also hoped that he wouldn’t pass away that day. Mom was already grieving enough; she didn’t need him dying as we celebrated her birthday. Two days later, on Sunday 8 November, I got the text from the nurse qua friend who’d been helping Linda take care of Steve.


He was gone.

Later that month came Thanksgiving. It was also a subdued gathering, and then came our anniversary. Then came the next big step. Yet, at the time, it didn’t seem so big. It was the end of the month and it was time to flip the calendar to the next month.


I couldn't do it.

I still can’t. The calendar hangs there, right above my desk. Every occasionally, oh, who am I kidding, regularly I look at it and little memories come flooding back. When I feel down, I remember his laugh and his gregarious nature. When I’m tempted to put work aside, I recall his words of encouragement. When I wonder about my family, I remember how good he was at showing an interest in what people were up and asking them about their lives. Granted, he often didn’t call as much as I would have liked, and he was terrible at returning a call, but even those aspects of his life have served as an inspiration. They push me not to be like him, in that respect. It is how my Dad’s drinking led to me being a teetotaler.

I realize that there will come a day, must come a day, when I will take down the calendar and throw it away. I have to; I have to move on. Right now, at this stage in my life and my grief, I just can’t do it. It’s strange that an item so simple, as a calendar, should carry such emotional weight.

 

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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