Prime Time: 'Soxtober,' or October, is a memorable month
That was what we called this month in our family when I was growing up. My stepdad's much-younger sister was my age. She had called it Soxtober, which was probably a mixture of her childhood mispro-nunciation of her birthday on the 6th of October. I suspect she will laugh when I tell her I still think of it that way every year, but I'll bet she does, too, and may even have passed it on to her kids and grandkids.
I was originally part of a small family. I had just one sibling, a brother eight years older than I, so he almost seemed like another generation. He was off to college just after my father tragically died at the young age of 46, and mother and I were the family alone for several years.
When she met and married the man I soon began to call Dad, we became part of a big, close family. I had learned to know and admire Jack when he was visiting us and dating my mother, but I didn't know the family. When my folks came back from their brief honeymoon on a Sunday evening, I was picked up after a church youth activity and taken to the home of the big family that my mother and I had now become part of. There I met the parents and siblings of my new dad and gathered around the big dining table where I would share many jovial and delicious family meals over the coming years.
My new Dad's younger brother was a gifted athlete, and we enjoyed following his exploits as he went from high school basketball to playing an important role on a University of Wisconsin team that was successful, not only in the Big 10, but in national competition. For a winter or two, we drove from our northern Illinois home to Madison for every home game of UW basketball.
At this time of the year, I am reminded that October was my mother's favorite month. She was not a fan of the oppressively hot, humid days that were typical of Illinois summers, and winter presented travel problems and restless kids who were confined to being indoors. October brought bright pleasant days for sitting in the backyard pergola to admire the gardens or for picnics in the back field of the farm my grandmother owned with big shade trees and a babbling creek running through it.
Our presence sometimes attracted a few of the black and white Holstein cows who were curious to see who was sharing their pasture.
Here in our area, it is not always possible to be sure of what October weather will bring. The days can vary from almost summerlike sunny warmth to gloomy damp days that remind us that winter is on its way.
I can't help but hope that this year will bring us many of those lovely autumn days my dear mother loved before we move on to preparing for the holiday season and hunkering down for the winter.