Saturday, October 07, 2006

Before the Fall

"This is my life," she says as we drive down her driveway. She points at the trees and the fallen leaves that surround the house. "I'm in the autumn of my life."

Her hair matches the color of the rusty leaves around us as she shakes her head and giggles.

"Mom, what do you mean, autumn?" I crinkle my eyebrows and cock my head, confused.

"I mean," she says, turning on her blinker and coming to a stop, "that I'm in my fifties. It's my fall. Still pretty, but we're on our way to winter."

I shake my head, rid myself of the thoughts of mortality she's inspiring. "But fifty is young, you're not on your way to winter."

"Yes I am, Laurie," she shifts into first and pulls forward, the tires sliding over the leaves that litter our road. "But I'm okay with that."

"This conversation is a bit morbid, I think," I say, reaching for the bottle of Dr. Pepper I brought along. "I don't want to talk know...dying."

"I'm not saying I'm dying. I'm not saying it's coming any time soon. But, you know, when you reach a certain age, you realize that you're not getting any younger. And you realize that you pretty much know what's left. And now, I'm ready. Because I can look back at my life and say it was good. It was satisfying. I have a wonderful husband, I have two beautiful kids. I have a house, I drive my dream car. I've traveled, I've seen some amazing things. If my winter is coming, I'm ready. Because I've done all I wanted to do."

Fall takes its sweet time fading into winter. It starts long before we notice it, the slight shift in the air that makes the leaves turn rusty, the dry soil that makes them go gold. We don't notice it until we're driving down the road and see an explosion of canary, a blur of crimson. And we make promises, to drive north and appreciate it, to see the trees of Vermont, the painted hillsides that line the interstate. We marvel at the colors as they spin from green to yellow, to amber, to red.

It's the most beautiful season of the four, but we take the colors for granted, and before we know it, the veined and brittle leaves line our streets and parking lots, no longer hanging onto the trees for our viewing pleasure. Trees are naked and twisted, their skeletons exposed, bared for winter. Very rarely do we appreciate the fall. We let the autumn pass us by and realize, too late, that it's winter.

It's extraordinary that she sees it, that my mom slows down enough to look around, take in the changes and appreciate them. I hope I appreciate the beauty of my fall, too, rather than just anticipating winter.


portuguesa nova said...

Oh, this post is disturbing...Nice, but still mostly just disturbing. I never wanna hear chat like this coming from anyone's mom. Not yours, mine or anyone's.

I've been preoccupied lately with the fact that, now that I'm having the kid, "death of a parent" will be my next major life passage.

Anonymous said...

It shouldn't be diturbing is just a natural part of life. My bigest fear in life is to have one of my kids go before me. But for me personaly, yes, I want to stay here as long as possible, but nobody can escape death. I think one thinks of this more as the years go by and little things start to break down, and when you go to a doctor, they say things like..."well, you know, you are 50 something.....".Don't get me wrong...I LOVE life......but the reality is just that, a reality.....
Great post Laurie!

Cheetarah1980 said...

I really do like this post. It seems to me that your mom had an awesome summer and now it's her time to enjoy autumn. I can only hope for a life so full.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. I don't find it disturbing at all. I am just approaching the fall of my life and I expect it to be full of the same beautiful colors that autumn always brings.