Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Change of Seasons...
Most mornings and most evenings I pass a tiny one-room Amish schoolhouse on my route to and from work.  In the summer, the school is empty and the grass is allowed to grow longer than during the school year.  Sometimes a few Amish children play on the swings and see-saws in the yard, but most of the time the building just sits shuttered and empty, in anticipation of the beginning of the next school year.
Recently I have seen some things happening at the little school as I passed.  Men are working there, making small repairs and cutting the grass as the children play in the schoolyard. Paint is touched up, the hitching rack tightened, the fences repaired.  This week the children returned to school and there are bicycles in the yard, horses tied to the hitching rack, and buggies sit with their shafts empty, waiting for the school day to end.
In my yard, the walnut trees have already begun shedding their leaves.  Along the roadway,the sumacs are turning red and gold.  The days are shorter and the sun reaches the yard at a slightly different angle.
Another summer is drawing to a close and the seasons march on, one after the other, as they have since the beginning and will until the end, forever and ever, Amen.  It only seems to go faster these days than it did when we were children, I know, but the illusion of time passing more and more quickly is there, nonetheless, perhaps as recognizance of my own mortality becomes more clear.  My parents warned me this would happen.

As this summer season of 2010 closes, another sort of season is also coming to an end.  My sister's battle with cancer is nearing its conclusion, and she will not be the winner, as we have known she would not from the time of her diagnosis.  She has become mainly nonresponsive, refuses food and medications, and must be coaxed to take even tiny sips of water.  Her body has given up control of its most basic functions.  There is little dignity in her existence these days and my heart aches that she must endure the depredations of her end care. 
Her husband is a miracle.  He is a man of great sweetness and kindness and tenderness.  He gives her perfect care, with the best-possible humor and love.  It is inspiring and heartbreaking to watch him as he performs the most dreadful of services for her comfort.  There are no words for my admiration.
My sister's season draws to a close, and the 'circle of life' rolls on.  I must soon adjust to a world without her in it for the first time since my birth in 1956.  I am so fortunate to have close friends who stand with me as I face this new and unhappy season in my own life, as I learn to celebrate the life she lived with such joy, rather than to mourn the loss of that life.  One friend recently told me, "Be strong." and I replied, "Rick, I don't have to be strong all by myself...I have many, many strong friends like you helping me."  My best friends are not geographically close, being spread across the USA and indeed around the world, but they are emotionally close and mentally close, and I can feel their support every minute of my day.  I am so blessed.

In happier thoughts, we recently had a reunion of my husband's mother's family, the Mulletts, and it was, as always a joyous occasion.  Family members came from Texas and Kansas and Kentucky and Indiana and Michigan and from who knows where else and we had the most splendid time!  The Texas cousins spent the weekend at our house, camping in our yard, and some nieces, nephews and our offspring camped here for the weekend, as well.  Bonfires every evening, and laughter every day...what a wonderful family I married into. 

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