Like any story, a life has a beginning, middle, and ending. In the Prologue, I shared my beginning – my birth on July 13, 1946. The body of this memoir fleshes out the middle portion of my life. That leaves my ending. Of those born in Ashton since the 1850s, I know I share a birthday with Emma Mary Meffert, born July 13, 1904. She lived to be 102. I hope I share her longevity, but I didn't want to take a chance so I went right to the top with a final request .
As to the matter of the timing of my death . . . I would not want to go in January. Not January. It’s the New Year for goodness sake! I’d like to see how the New Year is going to go before I go. Besides, you already took Jeff, the best brother-in-law anyone could have, in January. And besides, the ground is frozen. How would you plunk my sorry soul into that? And where would my next cat nap, if not my lap, in January? No, not January.
But February isn’t any better, wouldn’t you agree? It’s too cold, it’s too bleak, and its days too short. Besides, I’m curious if the groundhog will predict an early spring or if St. Valentine will send love my way. And it’s Grapefruit Month, Library Lovers Month, Spunky Old Broads Month, and Dump Your Significant Jerk Week. I don't want miss those. Besides, the music died in February – enough sadness for one month. No, not February either.
March isn’t good either. It’s spring for crying out loud! By March, we in northern climes have paid our winter dues. I live for spring and the pleasures of the vernal equinox. Let me toast one more green beer to St. Patty (my favorite saint) and indulge in one more plate of pasta to honor National Noodle Month (Japanese udon noodles are to die for). I need to celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week (I adored my elementary school teachers and they loved me). Pig Day, Pi Day, Pasty Day, and Poetry Day. Shakespeare Week! To be or not to be, that is the question. I choose to be.
And April? Surely you wouldn’t want to bury me during April’s showers or under its spring flowers. In return, I promise to laugh at mankind's lousy April Fools jokes, arise early for church on Easter Sunday, and cheer hard for Mother Earth on Earth Day. I will celebrate St. Stupid Day, if you wish. Besides, I'd like another National Sense of Smell Day to try to get my sense of smell back, which I’ve done without for years.
That brings me to May, my favorite month. Well, it was my favorite, until both my father and grandfather died in May. (I still haven’t recovered.) Besides, Mother’s Day is in May, but I can’t shower my holy mother with love because you took her already, too. Please keep me off your May to-do list.
But my death shouldn’t be on your June agenda, either. It’s Father’s Day month, when I honor my father who died just the month before this. Besides, I’m a father, too, and my three sons still need me. And it’s the summer solstice, when the fireflies, my little twinkling buddies, come looking for me in Ashton. And besides, it’s June Dairy Month (a really big deal here in Wisconsin), Adopt-a-Cat Month (it takes time to replace a great cat like Tiberius), and World Bike Naked Day (I’d like to observe it at least once). So, June should be out, too.
But July would be the worst! July is my birthday month. It would be too cruel to make it my deathday month, too. And besides, just once I'd like to attend Nebraska’s Wayne Chicken Day where its hard-boiled-egg-eating-contest has my name on it. And I’m curious what happens on Barbie-in-a-Blender Day since I spent some time in Australia. So, I’d like a pass on July.
That leaves Happiness Happens Month, August, when we celebrate Happily Married Husband and Wife Week (I’d like to learn why some couples are so happy), S’mores Day (I’d like to see how people eat them without dripping chocolate on their chins), and National Sweet Corn Week (a golden ear lathered in butter and smothered in salt is heavenly). Besides, August features Best Friends Day, Brothers Day, Respect for Parents Day, and, of course, National Toilet Paper Day (I have rolls and rolls to use before I die – Scott’s had a huge sale).
On to September, Healthy Aging Month. Notice the word “aging” ends with an “ing,” which implies one is still alive when the month ends. Besides, there are fine causes to support this month, like Grandparent’s Day. (I’m a grandparent. There’s speculation that you’re a grandparent, too. I’ve seen the The Da Vinci Code.) And what about Deaf Dog Awareness Week, Random Acts of Kindness Day, and National Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness Day? All great causes! And besides, there are fun days to celebrate this month, too (fun is not a four-letter word) – Popcorn Days, No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day, Ants on a Log Day, Big Whopper Liar Day (not that I ever would), and Talk Like a Pirate Day (I would need practice, but hell’s bells, that sounds like fun).
That brings us to October, my oldest son’s birthday. Though in his 50s, I promised Bryan I would never abandon him. A promise is a promise! Besides, October has National Save for Retirement Week (too late for me but I can advise others) and Evaluate Your Life Day (too late for me but I can advise others). And besides, there is National Knock-Knock Jokes Day. We need more laughter in the world! (“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Boo!” “Boo who?” “I’m sorry. Was it something I said?” Not great because I need more time for another draft.) So, October? It’s a “no” brainer.
November was my mother’s birthday and the month she died – I’m just saying. And if I’m to prepare for my death, I need to attend Epitaph Planning Day on November 2. That’s the day after I celebrate All Saints Day, November 1, though I’ll have little to celebrate because you have yet to canonize a St. Wayne. Given more time, I know I can fill that slot in your liturgical calendar. And besides, my vote is needed to make the world safe for democracy on Election Day, clean up the world on Use Less Stuff Day and National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, and bring more joy to the world during Kindness Week. It’s only common sense to keep me here longer, a sentiment shared around the world on November 4, Common Sense Day.
Last, but not least, is December. Good Lord, that’s your son’s birthday! Winter solstice! Saturnalia Week! Besides, I’d like to celebrate National Ding-a-Ling Day just once. (It’s not what you think, but a time to call long-lost friends.) And besides, surely you can find it in your heart to spare me for one more Look-on-the-Bright-Side Day, December 31.
So, do you see a good time for me to go? I don’t. Might I suggest a better solution? You recall Sisyphus, who, according to legend, was condemned to roll a huge stone to the top of a mountain, only to have that big old rock roll right back down so he would have to start all over again, and then again and again for all eternity. Let me join Sisyphus! You wouldn’t have to dispose of me, Sisyphus would have some company, he and I could share the workload and give each other breaks, and I could stay in shape (the exercise would do me good). I know this could work! I'd just rather not join him in January . . . .
Thanks for understanding.
Wayne Wienand William Brabender
P.S. In case I do die, I'd like to come back as a musician or a barn swallow.
This blog is a book in the making. If you're a new visitor, read Whole Hearted - A Farm Love Story. You can also find a copy in Prologue.