Fall is here, and I have always found this an energetic time of year. The leaves change with red, brown, and yellow shades, and I notice that the trees are shedding them quickly. I watch out my window and am entertained by a pair of squirrels as they gather their harvest before the upcoming winter.
My mind drifts back to another time and the farm, our farm. Fall was always a busy time of year for us, with early mornings and late nights. The seasons rarely wait for anyone. Fall is exceptionally persistent. Our livelihood depended on our crops to sustain us to the next season. I both dreaded and loved this time of year. It seemed we never stopped moving, and time both stood still and flew by. I helped where I could, when I could, alongside my husband as he worked the land and cared for the livestock, but often, my work was to prepare our home with food and respite. My husband has been on my mind more of late.
I find myself further back in time, to when I was just a child. It seemed I knew the man that would become my husband all my life, and I guess I have. Our parents were friends, and we grew up together. As we grew, he started to see me differently and time seemed to bring us so naturally together. It is a beautiful thing when you can come together first as friends, then as lovers. We courted as was the tradition back then, and of course, our families approved.
Soon after we were married, our first child was born, and it was my husbands’ pride and joy as we delivered a healthy son to start our family. Our son was just the beginning of what would be eight children; four boys and four girls. Today, a family of eight is uncommon, but it was standard back when we had our children. Farming was hard work, which meant a busy kitchen to feed the hungry stomachs after a long day’s work. I spent hours in the kitchen preparing meals and baking from scratch, again a lost art.
In time, we would see many of our children marry, and then our grandchildren came, and our family swelled as we welcomed 26 grandchildren! Then with more time, our family grew further with great-grandchildren and now our first great-great-grandchild. Our family grew to well over 100, and it meant bragging rights among our friends for my husband and me. We were proud of our family, all good people with kind hearts. As parents, you could not ask for more. My thoughts drift to my husband, and I cannot help but think how incredible it is that we, two people started this impressive legacy that we call our family.
My mind settles upon my husband. It was about this same time of year that he left me. It wasn’t his choice; it rarely is when God calls you home. I look back on that day nearly twenty years ago now, and there is so much that I remember. Yet the passing of time has a way of dimming the memory to make it more tolerable, I would imagine. We had so many good years together.
As we aged, we took advantage of the warmth of Arizona and stayed there for several months out of the winter. Still, as fortunate as we were to have this opportunity, my home was Minnesota, where my children all lived. Beyond our family, we had many friends with whom we spent time playing Rolle-Bolle or cards. I smile as I remember that going to the grocery store with my husband meant a lengthy affair. He had to stop and talk to everyone, and everyone stopped to talk to him. If he was the extrovert, I was more introverted, at least until I felt comfortable with any new circumstance.
Infinte vs. Finite
When I was younger, time seemed to be infinite. When I was a young mother, it seemed there was not enough time, yet too much time, primarily through our lean years. When my children were young, I would often wish for time to move faster. I would think to myself, “If they would be a little older this…”, or “if they were a little older that…” We all do that, I guess; we wish time away when we should be soaking up every minute. That is the part of living that seems so infinite in our youth. In our immaturity, we imagine a decade, not unlike a century, but in the final decade of my century, I can tell you with certainty that time is finite.
A brown squirrel joins the pair of red squirrels outside my window. After a bit of tussle, the brown squirrel leaves while being chased off by the team of squirrels. The pair set off to their task of gathering nuts. They are working in such haste that I know it will be a cold winter. Like the groundhog, squirrels can tell us what we can expect for each changing season, especially winter. If the squirrels work in zeal, one can expect a cold winter.
Ah yes, winter, will I live to see another? I stand upon the precipice of mortality, and it is sobering. I am both ready and not. My mind is sound, but my body is betraying me. However, I must acknowledge that it has had a long and fulfilling run. This trepidation is more about my next journey. I welcome the Lord as I know He will receive me, and I long to see my beloved. Yet, that cannot be without accepting that I will release my hold here on earth. It means leaving behind so many that I love to see the few that have gone before me.
I am pulled from my thoughts by the nurse; she is bringing me my supper tray. I like her, I think, as she sets the tray down. She washed my hair this morning and curled it for me. She is kind, and kindness seems in short supply these days. I have seen so much through my many years, but these recent years alarm me. We have lost our way as a nation and as a world, and I worry that we cannot find it again.
I Wish They Knew
I wish I could tell the world that hard work, acts of kindness, and a good moral compass are what built this nation. I wish I could say that wars, famines, epidemics, and droughts do not repair themselves; the unity of man working for the greater good solves these problems. If people knew my heart, they would see that wealth, vanity, and status are superficial. If they only knew that for the world to rise again, the fundamental act of living is less about what we accumulate and more about how we treat others and how we lift the downtrodden.
I have walked this earth for more than nine decades. I have witnessed the best and worst in man. When I forsake this earth, I will leave knowing that the example I set for my family includes God, faith, and values. I feel that to be an extraordinary accomplishment. As my time sets, I realize that I will hand over my children the baton I have held for more than nine decades. I do not worry about their capability; they are all steadfast. Instead, I am forlorn as I acknowledge that I won’t be here for them.
I wrestle with these thoughts as I look beyond my window. The squirrels are there again, busy as ever, signaling a long and cold winter, no doubt.
Ah yes, my supper, there is nothing better than a sandwich and a bowl of warm soup on a fall day, I think, as I set to work on my meal. I am sure that the rantings and ravings of an old lady will not right the craziness of the world we currently live in, but if they only knew. If the people of this world just only knew…