Monday, November 22, 2010

The Fire Tree

One afternoon last week I walked past my front hallway and noticed the glass on my front door glowed like orange-red flames. The leaves on the  maple tree in my front yard had donned autumn garb and came knocking...a tree like fire casting its light right where I lived. The hallway lit up, a stained glass shower of autumn bliss. I could feel the warmth soaking my soul. I could feel the season, silent but gloaming, dusky and daunting...daunting because I can now feel the autumn in my bones. I've lived through Spring and Summer, danced and chased passions. Now I am in the season of respite. The flame is alive, but I know Winter is coming. It's all part of the process -- part of the circle that is Life. I'm completely cool with that.

My father reminds me of Winter. I look at him and know that most of his life has passed. He lives in memories of times long gone, when the trees were green  and sprouting. Ah, glory days, alive and vibrant and all the time in the world. I'm sure it passed too quickly for him -- I know it did for me. Still, there is comfort in recollections. My father's whole world is now in the past. He tells the same stories over and over again. He can't remember today --  yesterday is a vibrant  hue of his favorite colors, though. Yesterday is where it's all happening for my father. Yesterday, when he was young...

I can sympathize. I haven't reached the season of Winter yet, but I've definitely crested the proverbial hill and the down slope is in sight. I'm slower. I forget stuff. There are "droops" in places that used to be "perky."  There is more to see in the rear view mirror these days. I have more doctors' appointments. And, God help me, it seems like I can't have a conversation with a doctor any more when every other word doesn't end in "oscopy."

Ah, but my Dad...what goes through his mind these days? His life revolves around doctor's appointments and medications. His memories are his joys. The future is something he doesn't think much about any more. How sad....

He used to catch promises floating on breezes -- now he has trouble catching his breath. His heart used to beat with anticipation -- now the beat is irregular and labored. His eyes used to shine -- now they fade into shadows and close when confusion baffles him. The other day he asked my sister if she knew David had gotten married. David is her son. She planned the wedding. We tried to play down the question, like we all forget details from time to time. The truth is, though, that the clouds have come to stay and they will grow heavier as Winter progresses.

Soon, the fire tree will be bare. Orange-red will fade to white and eventually blur. Winter comes. But, winter always gives birth to Spring.

So, I will be happy to share this Thanksgiving with my father and all my family, while we are all here and able to enjoy each other's company. We will make some new memories. Maybe my father will remember them. Maybe not. I will remember, though, for I am in Autumn and the fire tree glows like promises that will never fade. I am still able to fan the flames. For this I am thankful. I love you, Daddy, and I wish for you all a very happy Thanksgiving!  Peace.