The last few weeks have made me reflect even more on the seasons of life. As we have dealt with unexpected health issues, I have seen more clearly that all our lives are divided into sections that change over time.
I listened to our daughter, who was home for Thanksgiving, as she excitedly talked about her job responsibilities, about finding a new place to live that would be closer to her new friends, and about her plans for the future. I remembered that time in my life — though it has been long ago — and recalled those feelings of excitement and hope and anticipation, as the world lay at my feet, seemingly waiting for me to tell it which way to go.
Also over the holiday, we talked with my cousin Ryan and his wife and baby daughter as they celebrated Lily’s second birthday, and I again remembered the anticipation of unfolding family years, years when Max’s and my focus was trying to raise our daughter to be a responsible, productive citizen, years when our most important daily decision was how to make sure that Emily got her homework done, that she got to swim or golf practice, that she treated her classmates with fairness and respect. While those years aren’t quite as far away, they still passed quickly, fleetingly, and they are gone.
We are empty nesters now, and while Emily has begun her own life, she hasn’t started talking about a wedding or having children. So our lives are now focused on ourselves, reflections on the decisions we have made, reflections on the way life has turned out so far — even when that has been in unexpected ways.
We were in the middle of making plans for a road trip next spring — we love putting the top down on the convertible and buzzing away to places unknown — when an unexpected issue arose with not only Don’s health, but my mother’s as well, and at the same time! While all worked out well, we were still taken aback when things went awry.
What I realized during those stressful few days is that we are given these seasons of life to do with as we will, and we need to find a purpose in them and make the most of them. Whether those days include plans for a new career, or raising a family, or enjoying a less stressful time, or finding our way in the September of our lives, we have the power to make them good, continuing to connect with friends and family, those with whom we spend our days, those who make our days worthwhile.
I also realized that we are all in this together, that we all experience, as Oprah once said, joy and love, as well as sadness and heartache. As our seasons pass, we also share a certain bewilderment as we age, finding that we can no longer do something that was easy a little while before. We share the betrayal of our bodies turning on us unexpectedly, and the certainty that the future is, at best, hazy.
But through all seasons, our lives can have meaning and purpose. I have learned this over the years from my family members — my great-grandmother, who spent her late days making peach and apple pies, along with the quilts I now treasure; my grandmother, who spent her days playing the piano and a mean game of canasta or bridge; my grandfather, who at age 95 mowed his own yard and fixed the roof on his house; and others, as well; but those lessons came into stark bas-relief as I realized that my life, too, would, sooner than I think or want, head into September, and eventually farther into winter.
Here’s what I vowed: I don’t quilt and I don’t make pies, I don’t play bridge, and you can bet that I won’t be on my roof or pushing a mower at age 95. Regardless, I will be celebrating the things that do come my way regardless of season. I’m hoping they are many.
Author’s note: The Christmas program was fabulous! Thanks to my readers who came to support our efforts!