Falling Leaves

Working from home can be a blessing but it can be challenging as well. Today as I sit in my office working (or trying to) the leaves keep blowing out of our maple tree. Each flutter of breeze brings another cascade of gold and red and orange leaves flying just outside my window. It’s as if they are waving goodbye. And I suppose they are. Next spring they will be replaced with green buds and leaves will sprout again. Until then we must endure another winter. Another dying. Waiting for the warmth to return. Another opportunity to learn patience and embrace hopefulness.

I have another distraction today, too. After 20 years of faithful service; 20 years of accepting our cars coming and going, we are having our driveway replaced. The cracks were becoming unsightly and possibly a tripping hazard. Still, the old driveway was dependable and serviceable and welcomed us (or at least our vehicles) home on our many returns. I suppose it’s strange to consider our old driveway with such anthropomorphism but there were times when I felt like that driveway hugged us on our return home. Today begins a new chapter in our lives. A new driveway – straight and clean and ready (in 7-10 days) to welcome our vehicles (and us). More hopefulness for many more years of happy returns to this home that I love.

My mind is occupied with the leaves falling, the workmen outside, the temperatures dropping because I don’t want to think about what is really happening. My Dad is 95 years old and resides in an assisted-living retirement community, which is a euphemism for “old folks home”. He is in declining health. He has fallen a lot lately and he just returned to his apartment after nearly 2 weeks in the hospital because of pain from his latest fall. He was badly bruised but fortunately nothing was broken. While in the hospital he had pneumonia brought on by pulmonary aspiration. He’s back home for now but no one knows what lies ahead. More hopefulness is required. But I am struggling. Dad has always been a big man – literally and figuratively. 6 feet tall and still strong but growing weaker each day. Dad, always quick with a joke, the teller of tales and the life of the party is now often confused and his thoughts are getting cloudier, as his needs, both physically and emotionally, grow greater.

As I watch the leaves fall, I think about Dad falling. As they tumble to the ground gracefully, effortlessly, I pray that Dad’s eventual decline is gentle and peaceful. I want him to live another 5 years or 10 years but I know that’s not likely. He misses Mom. He longs to be reunited with her but I’m selfish and I want to hold on. Perhaps it’s my own mortality I fear. I’m so much like Dad in so many ways that seeing him this way is like staring into my future. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of losing him. I’m afraid of what lies ahead for both of us. Dad’s always been a fixer, a problem solver, a make-things-better guy. But Dad can’t fix this. And neither can I. Things will change but spring will come as it always does. And new life will emerge because hope is eternal.

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. Romans 8:24-25

So now I pray for endurance for Dad (and for me).

Peace,

Denis

Autumnal

It seems as if EVERYONE loves Autumn. Oh the beautiful colors of the leaves! Oh the crisp, clean air! Oh the pumpkin pies and apple cider! Oh the magic of it all!

But I’m not a fan of Autumn or as I prefer to call it “the beginning of the end”. Goodbye warm sunny days. Goodbye green grass and hummingbirds. Goodbye swimming pools, patio dining, lush gardens and summer nights. Goodbye baseball, flip-flops, lazy days and Corona®  (it’s just not the same when it’s not Summer).

To me Autumn represents that slow, painful march into the dark days of Winter. Cold. Bleak. Sad. Winter. You can call me a curmudgeon but Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes® and hay-rides aren’t really my thing. I’m a Summer-lover. And I’m sad that it’s over. And I’m even sadder that Winter is on its way. Oh you can be fooled for a while into thinking that these easy Fall days with sunshine and moderate temperatures will last but you’d be wrong. Just lurking around the corner is the dreaded freezing cold of Winter. The Ice. The Snow. The Darkness.

Be warned: Soon Autumn will only be a memory and you will be trudging through the dreary desolation of Winter.

Perhaps my displeasure of Autumn (and what it brings) is the reality that I am in the Autumn of my life. After all, the Springtime of my youth is a long-ago memory. I’m 60 now and squarely living in my Autumn and that’s assuming I will be around to see my Winter. Maybe that’s what scares me or makes me uncomfortable – getting older. Realizing that time waits for no one. And my Winter? Well that’s more than I care to think about right now. Is old age the impending doom? Are the twilight years an endless reminder that soon it will all be over? Surely not. My Dad will be 90 in the Spring and he’s still going strong.

Ah, the Spring! That’s it! Springtime – life renews again! Dad will be 90 next Spring! And so life goes on.

Yes I suppose Autumn is a beautiful season and I will try to embrace it. Even if it reminds me that the end is near. And even if it represents the dying and passing away of my Summer. But that needn’t be a bad thing. I should just bundle up and stay warm. Maybe I’ll even enjoy a pumpkin latte. Because when this life ends (and it will, no matter how hard I fight it) I know that there will be a rebirth in heaven.

And my Summer will come again…

Peace,

Denis

Autumn (or as I prefer to call it – gravy season)

The leaves and the temperatures are falling; the flower beds are raggedy; the days are getting shorter. It must be Autumn. Time to harvest and store for winter. Our yearly reminder that all life must end.

But fear not. Spring will come again! Life will be renewed.

But until then, bring on the sweaters. Pile on the blankets. Light the fires. And please pass the gravy. Or stew. Or soup. Or meat pie. And lots of stuffing and potatoes and more gravy please.

gravyOf course here in the United States we will be celebrating Thanksgiving soon. And in the true spirit of that holiday we give thanks for our abundant blessings. Traditionalists share a meal of turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes and corn and cranberries – all foods native to North America. We will  celebrate and remember the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving. And we top off our meal of thanksgiving with pumpkin pie (which is sort of the gravy of desserts – no chewing is required).

I suppose sumptuous meals lessen my seasonal depression. I don’t like cold weather. I don’t love snow. I find winter bleak and dreary. So when the occasional gravy-smothered meal is served it eases my loss of blue skies and warm weather. And bulky sweaters assist in covering up an expanded waistline. Seasons change. Weight fluctuates. It’s the circle of life.

However this year I’m determined to not board the “gravy boat”. I will maintain a healthy diet. I will resist all temptation. I will face those cheesy casseroles and warm muffins and gravy-laden delicacies with resolve. I will say no to the extra helping. No to the second dessert. No to the cup of hot cocoa with those adorable tiny marshmallows. No to the warm puddings covered in cream. No, no, no!

But who am I kidding? If God had wanted us to starve all winter he wouldn’t have created Autumnal foods in the first place. Mmmm – meatloaf! Even the name sounds decadent.

So pull up a chair and pass the platter. And please excuse me while look for my favorite pair of loose-fitting jeans and that bulky sweater with the gravy stains.

Peace,

Denis