The older I get the more I harken back to years long past. The joys and sorrows, lessons learned and questions which always linger, all are behind the view I take of today and my expectations for the days left. And so I do what I have never done before – present an article written in 2013 for readers to consider once more. After three and a half years my views remain unchanged. I can express them no better.
What’s going on? A yellow leaf floats gently by, guided by a light breeze. It can’t be . . . fall already? Summer has been so short. A gust of air, and I watch another leaf fall. This one lands on my head. Lifting it down, I marvel at its fall dress. A bit of green is still showing, but the rest is streaked with orange, yellow, and brown. It flaunts its beauty unapologetically, as if to say “Look at me, see what wonders change can bring.”
Sinking down on my bench, I look up at the tree. It is ablaze with leaves in full colour, waiting for their appointed time to fall. With shock I realize that autumn isn’t on its way, it is fully here. The seasons have changed without my noticing.
“Why is it always this way?” I muse. “Change always comes, yet I fail to see it coming. Only when it flies in my face or lands on my head, do I wake up and recognize a different reality.”
The seasons of my life slipped by me. I didn’t think about it when I was just living. There was no notice given, no fanfare, and very little conscious thought of life’s changing path or of personal changes. Decades marched by.
One day I stop to comb my hair. I look in the mirror and gasp. Who is this woman? I don’t recognize her. Without my being aware of it, my seasons have been lived … spring, summer, fall all gone … and I find myself deep in winter. The falling of my life’s “autumn leaves” failed to alert me that major changes were slowly being made, externally and internally.
The older I get, the faster the pile of remaining days dwindles. Now I look back and remember, more often than I look ahead and plan. Rejoicing and grieving travel hand in hand. So much left to do and enjoy, and yet so many empty seats at the table. The intense pleasure experienced daily from little things, the curiosity about what tomorrow will bring, keeps life appealing and beckons me on.
In 1937 Don Blanding, a poet, artist, and lover of life wrote “The Rest of the Road.” The last verse of that poem reads:
“How long? How far? How hard? How fine?
How heavy or light the load?
If it’s half as good as the half I’ve known
Here’s Hail! … to the rest of the road.”
This poem was written approximately eighty years ago, and has been a favourite of mine for seventy. Even in my winter, it still gives voice to my belief that life should be joyous, and that it can be so for me until my pile of days runs out. I creak my way into bed, pull my comfy quilt up to my chin, chuckle and whisper, “Here’s Hail! … to the rest of the road.”
14 Responses to Autumn Leaves
Marjorie, thank you for sharing about your autumn days. I read your article with interest and total empathy. Now that I’m in my seventies I finally “get” old people! And I have to acknowledge that I am one!
We do learn as the years fly by, don’t we? Now that I’m in my nineties l find there is still much to learn and enjoy.
So special, my friend. When I look in the mirror I am often surprised to see my dad looking back at me!!
And aren’t we fortunate that the visual resemblance brings warm feelings and memories.
This was so lovely when I read it the first time and even more so now. Perhaps I understand it now better than four years ago. Thanks mom!
We all learn as we go along the path, Lorna. The road to joy is to find the roses among the thorns. Life has been good to me, even in the tough times.
Referring to our lives in terms of Seasons, I know when I look in a mirror or a storefront glass window, I know I’m past the Autumn of my life, which just leaves Winter still to go. When I sit among my fellow tenants, one might think I would have more than that. I’m okay with having just one Season to go. We have what we have and, most of the time, that’s okay.
Realism is a great help, isn’t it Eleanor? Accepting what can’t be changed, and making the most of what we have – is a great slogan.
You have always had a very positive approach! Like Lorna I appreciate it more and more. You have set a great example for those who follow and you write so well. We’re sending virtual hugs to you❤
Leone – to hear from you is a gift in itself. I cannot remember now how old Ruth was when she died, perhaps at 94 I am approaching the same number! What I do remember is the understanding and loving care you and Dave gave her as she completed the last lap. And she enjoyed every day – no matter what came.
Your words are just as moving today as they were when you first put pen to paper – or fingers to the keyboard! Here’s to celebrating everyday – each one is precious – as are you dear friend.
I agree, Dorothy!! Enjoy every day, it could be your last. Glad you are reading my efforts. The comments and sense of connection keep me going.
Always nice to read your writing. You have a real gift, as does Isabel, and we all benefit from you putting down in words what the rest of us are thinking. Your postings always make me stop and think – something that is easy to NOT do in the midst of a busy day. Take care and enjoy the wonderful Spring season as it unfolds in Vancouver. We are rejoicing at the melting of snow here in Alberta!
Hi Alison – Thanks for your comments, much appreciated! Sometimes my musing hits a common thread, and sometimes I hit the mark, so it is encouraging to get favourable reactions!
As to weather – that’s another question. We have scored the wettest March ever recorded, and even native Vancouverites are complaining. Spring is yet to arrive.