As some of you know, this fall has been rough, as we deal with myriad health issues with one of the family elders. (In truth, the fall had a bit of a rough run-up as we dealt with both of my parents having their own medical issues, but things are going much better with them now.)
I have been doing much to-ing and fro-ing and have needed to grab little snatches of consolation, comfort, and beauty as I can find them. I was grateful for the unusually vibrant fall foliage this year, beginning early with the first peaks of gold among the green of the hillsides and ending with our neighbors vivid red Japanese maple.
Even after all the leaves had fallen, I continued to marvel at the white chrysanthemum on our front porch. I had originally bought the plant from the grocery store to clip some blossoms to fill in for some wilted flowers in a Christmas centerpiece almost three years ago. I had managed to keep it alive indoors and it offered a blossom here and there, but this spring, I asked my husband to re-pot it and put it outdoors. To my surprise, it flourished and offered hardy white blossoms that withstood several hard frosts until the snows came.
With the cold weather, we started to put out birdseed and suet in our feeders and I delight in catching glimpses of chickadees, jays, finches, woodpeckers, juncos, tufted titmouse, cardinals, and nuthatches enjoying the food.
The best gift of the fall was the visit of both of our daughters and our son-in-law for Thanksgiving. I am still holding in my mind the picture of us around the Thanksgiving table with the three grandparents. We were too busy eating and enjoying each others’ company for photo ops, but here is a photo our older daughter took of her spouse and sister tending to the birdfeeders in the snow. Larry, who grew up in London, was relishing in the eight inches of snow we received. Now living in Hawai’i, he was not used to that much snow at once!
Still, despite my best efforts, I have recently had a bit of a crash. Last Friday, I spent hours working on a letter that I plan to send in lieu of holiday cards this year. I needed to recap the year and finally cried over a lot of the difficulties that I had been powering through because I had to keep going for those who were depending on me.
I thought I had gotten the melancholy out of my system until I was sitting next to my parents in church Sunday morning. The handbell choir and adult choir were both participating, which was emotional for reasons I wrote about here. The First Sunday of Advent, I had been in church with my daughters and son-in-law all singing beside me. On this Second Sunday, the handbell choir was processing and the choir and assembly were singing “Christ, Circle Round Us”, a setting of the “O” antiphons by Dan Schutte, and my daughters weren’t there to join in. I started crying and barely sang the hymn, even though I love it. I had my face turned away from my mom, hoping she wouldn’t see my tears. I found out later, she was also emotional, thinking back to all the years she had heard her granddaughters singing and ringing in church.
Like the autumn leaves, sometimes tears need to fall, too.