You can have all of October

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Do you have a favorite month of the year?

How about May, when Mother Nature reaches down and touches the earth, bringing the plants and all of their glorious color back to life?

Or maybe it’s June n wedded bliss.

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Or perhaps you are a holiday person and

look forward to November and December.

OK, now, do you have a least favorite month?

I do. I could do without October.

The last five Octobers have been tragic for members of my family and me. They have brought the death of our father and four beloved pets.

It all began for me in October 2001, when, just one week short of her 17th birthday, my cat Mel died. This cat had been with me through the good and the bad, thick and thin, and was as close, if not closer, than I have ever gotten to some humans. She became sick and the doctor told me there was nothing he could do to help. And I trusted his judgment.

I’ll never forget the day I took her to his office for the final time. As he prepared the fatal dose of a product ironically named Euthanasia, I suggested, unless he wanted to see a 50-year-old man cry, that he might leave the room after administering the injection. He did exactly that and I spent my last moments with my friend.

A year later, again in October, I came home to find my other cat Snow Peas lethargic, and almost unable to move. I rushed her to the vet n same doctor in Eden, N.C. n and he administered a battery of tests. The results showed that this little bundle of fur, just 9 at the time, was suffering from kidney failure. He even noted that her results were “off the charts” from what his medical book was telling him.

Once again, I watched as the doctor prepared the injection and I held yet another of my little friends as she left me.

The next October was good for me, but not so for my little brother in Michigan. It was during that time in 2003 that his oldest cat Roe became ill and had to be euthanized. If anybody could relate to that, it was I.

And as bad as those previous three fall months had been, it was October 2004 that was the worst. I’ll never forget that Friday afternoon when I received a phone call from a neighbor of my father’s in West Virginia. She told me that my dad had been taken to the local hospital with heart problems and he wasn’t expected to live throughout the night.

I grabbed the first plane out of Tallahassee, Fla., the next day, and arrived at my father’s hospital room within a few hours. My four siblings were already there.

For a man who wasn’t expected to live long, my dad seemed to be doing well. He was awake and alert and telling those same old corny jokes he had told all of us for oh, so many years.

I stayed for about a week and things seemed to be under control. The doctors told us that my father had suffered a tear in his heart, and the surgery was only about 5 percent successful. At 85, my father said he didn’t want the operation, that he had lived a full life and was ready to accept whatever God had intended for him.

I returned home to Florida.

The following Monday evening, my older brother called from Colorado to say dad had died. It seems he was watching Monday Night Football and asked the nurse to turn the TV off and dim the lights in his room. He then closed his eyes and left us. I think he knew.

And finally, just last month in Charleston, S.C., my younger sister had to euthanize her beloved yellow lab Spanky. It seems the old gal had come down with cancer and the disease won.

So, as you can see, I have every right not to be a fan of October. I still love the cool, crisp weather and the turning of the leaves, but that’s about all. Well, I suppose I should add my mother’s and my best friend’s birthdays as other things I love about the month.

But other than those things, you can have the entire 31 days, lock, stock and barrel.

As for my family, we’re thinking about celebrating either two Septembers or two Novembers. So far they have been good to us.

Douglas Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at