I am a romantic. All the time. Not forcibly according to a calendar.
This ‘February is the month of love‘ crap is madness. Have we really gotten so preoccupied, so distracted, that we need a specific month to remind us to love? A schedule according to which we show our love? I hate it. If there’s a month for love, what happens during the rest of the months? I hate it.
February is something different for me.
It is the month I met John who would ultimately become my husband. But beyond that little anniversary, February is a month of loss.
As a child, my maternal grandparents visited every weekend. Every Saturday, while my sisters and I watched cartoons, Grandpa would arrive with Grandma. Grandpa didn’t usually stay, but Gram did. All day while Dad went to the hospital to see patients and Mom had some time without her four daughters to catch up on things.
Gram would cook for us, always traditional Ukrainian food, from scratch. She would tell us stories about her life, her journey from the Ukraine through Germany, and finally to the US, in the midst of WW II. She never did quite learn to read or write English fluently. Her speech was always sprinkled with Ukrainian words in place of the English ones she could never remember.
Gram’s birthday was February 8th. She would have been 96 this month… but she died in 2013.
I was never as close to my dad as I am to Mom. Sometimes it breaks my heart because it’s too late for us now. Mom used to tell me that Dad and I clashed because we were so alike. I hated when she said that because I rarely agreed with him. But as I grew up, I realized, just like with many other things, Mom was right. Dad and I were the same. Not in our beliefs or our opinions, but in the way we believed and the way we expressed ourselves… how passionate we were about everything.
I loved Dad’s stories about growing up in Italy. And stories of his travels all over Europe, skiing the Alps and other amazing things. And his tales of traveling all over the US and Canada when he moved here, alone, to complete his medical degree. He met Mom… and he stayed. Maybe he was always going to stay or maybe he stayed for love. Being so like him and letting love rule me, I always thought it was for love.
And I look so like him. I notice it more and more the older I get. Especially in the eyes.
Dad died in February 2012.
February reminds me of what I’ve lost. But it’s not just sadness — I have wonderful memories of Dad and Gram.
It’s also not just sadness because there’s something else I lost in February. On the 2nd, to be exact. And I’m reminded every year when an old friend sends me a Groundhog Day greeting. Because years ago [not confessing how many…], on the 2nd of February, I lost something else…