Well, we made it. We are finished with January, past the Ground Hog and it will be spring in six weeks, somewhere. True to form, January was only double the length of the other months. It started OK. Sorta luring us into thinking maybe this won’t be so bad, but it didn’t take long for things to start happening.
First, of course, was the window blowing out of the Alaska Airlines plane. We all know someone, if it wasn’t us personally, whose travel plans were badly disrupted by delays or cancellations, maybe both. Then, when that was getting smoothed out and travelers were getting to where they wanted to be, the bad weather blew up in the smaller states, again causing cancellations and delays, this time all over the Lower 48. People were being stranded in horrible places: Miami, Tucson, San Diego, even Honolulu when the storms closed airports up and down the West Coast.
It was very cold in places that hardly ever see freezing temperatures, and windy and snowy and terrible. Here in Alaska, where we would have simply thrown another log on the fire, it was milder than lots of places outside. My PNW relatives, who basically had told me, “yeah, it’s winter” were sending me memes like “Come get your weather, It’s drunk in my back yard.”
And somebody must have, because about the time it started moderating out there, we were blasted with days of sub-zero weather. But toward the end of the month, Alaska Airline got most of their planes good to go. We were treated to a marvelous full moon — the Wolf Moon — and clear cold skies to view it then a snowstorm to remind us it is still winter. And that was January!
January was also a little more poignant this year for my family. We lost our youngest sister just after Thanksgiving. It was completely unexpected and no one had a chance to say goodbye so we were left going into the December holidays in a less than festive frame of mind.
Young Sis had never been married, so no kids, which is probably part of the reason no will, which created its own problems. She was an accountant in Anchorage who worked from home. Her computer and her file cabinet were securely locked. No one could legally access them until an executor was assigned. Problem one.
We four sisters were the next of kin. Technically, and maybe legally, I, as the oldest, should have been that person. But logically and logistically, Palmer Sis was in a better position to take over the job, and I had no objections. The sisters in Washington state agreed, but the State of Alaska requires a little more than a “You can do it, Sis.”
We had to get a lawyer, (Palmer Sis happened to know one because she used to own a business,) and sign and notarize documents saying we knew she could do the job but we wouldn’t pay her to do it. It couldn’t be done online, so during the holiday rush we had to juggle closings to find a notary and then mail documents. Surprisingly, nothing was lost so right after the New Year they were ready to be delivered to the lawyer.
And somebody torched her office. It hasn’t been determined if someone was mad at her or just wanted to see something burn, but needless to say it rather slowed things down. Luckily Palmer Sis was simply in the process of delivering the papers, so they were not lost. Just delayed a few days while the lawyer got things squared around again.
So at the end of January the State of Alaska said OK. She can do it. Time to inventory the household, (15 teaspoons, three sofa pillows, 150 pairs of earrings, one cat), get into her computer and otherwise tear her life apart and admit she is gone. This past month we’ve had phone calls and group chats. Laughed a lot, because she would want us to do that, and cried privately. Fielded condolences and passed them on, and drank more than one dirty martini in her remembrance. Come spring we’ll all get together and spread her ashes at the farm in Idaho and have a good communal, sisterly cry. And she’ll be where she wanted to be. And we will be Four.
But now it is February. Still cold but Super Bowl is in the air; Mardi Gras is next, then Valentine’s day. Presidents Day right after for the mandatory long weekend. The days are longer and even with an extra day this year; February is only half as long as January was. Time to think of gardening, fishing, Easter, and maybe spring in the distance. Anything is possible!