It took me several minutes of digging around in my purse this evening to find my vehicle keys so I could drive to work. Rain was steadily falling and I was sure it would bring down some tree limbs all along the route I drive to work each evening. As much as I had enjoyed the weekend I felt my mood turning more and more somber as the time for me to leave the house drew closer. Normally, I look forward to going to work but this evening I would have been content to stay home and watch the world pass me by as I looked through the front room window.
Today was Labor Day and the reality of summer coming to an end is no longer deniable. While I will not miss the extreme heat we experienced this summer I cannot say I’m looking forward to the long cold and barren days of winter. The beautiful flowers I’ve cherished since late spring will soon be bitten by Jack Frost and the rebirth and new beginning of another season in life will take charge and hold us all hostages until it weakens and fades away. That is the way of life and just thinking about the change of the season causes me to reflect on my life and all the changes I’ve experienced.
The last two days have been wonderful. My son arrived home late Friday evening and my daughter and son-in-law arrived Saturday afternoon. My daughter and her husband had just returned from a trip to Rhode Island and they arrived with coolers filled with lobsters, clams, and scallops. Hugs, love, and laughter were plentiful in the house on Saturday as my daughter and my son took over the kitchen and prepared a seafood feast. There was a time when I would have been trying to clean water rings from beneath glasses while people were still drinking from them and trying to keep every utensil and bowl washed as it was being used but not this weekend. For this occasion, I stood back and enjoyed the interaction between my son and my daughter as they worked together like two well oiled pieces of machinery doing a job they had been designed to do. Wasn’t it only a few years ago that I was hearing, “Mom, can you make me a sandwich? School was a beast today and I’m starved!”
My son was the first to leave the house this morning for the trip back to Pittsburgh. He had already loaded up his two fur babies and his luggage when he grabbed me in a bear hug and held on tightly for longer than he normally does. He turned and headed for his car stopping one last time to look back at me standing on the front porch before he slid behind the steering wheel. His last wave good-bye as he drove off was not the enthusiastic wave he offered when he was first leaving home for the big city. His wave today was born of being torn between his new life and determination to succeed and his desire to remain my little boy at the same time. Who said growing up was going to be all fun? Wasn’t it just a short time ago that my young man would be filled with frustration and in an effort to ease that frustration, pick up an ax and head off to the woods where he would land blow after wood splintering blow to a tree until we had too much firewood for the fire pit and he had no energy left to use for anger?
Next to leave was my Goddaughter. How in the world did she change so quickly from being a little tomboy with pigtails in her hair to a beautiful sixteen year-old with plans for college? It seems like only yesterday she was standing at the fence as she intently watched two young boys just waiting for any possible opportunity to join them while they rode their bikes, or better yet, have them come back into the yard to swing her around and around like an airplane or help her climb up the ladder to the slide over and over again until they were all exhausted? Wasn’t it just a few years ago that her lower lip was constantly protruding in a pout and her favorite activity was running away with grandma’s television remote so someone would have to chase her down to get it?
The last to leave was my daughter, my first born, my first real joy as well as my first real challenge. She was always impetuous and full of questions, fragile with a determination forged of titanium, wore her heart on her sleeve but defended her family with enough courage to rival any knight. Wasn’t it just a short time ago that she was learning to drive, developing new tastes in music, baby sitting and bringing the children home with her for lunch, and soon after, falling in love for the first time?
Friends and family filled my home with love and laughter all weekend but today I had to fight an empty feeling from taking up residence in my heart as the cars pulled out of the driveway. Walking back into the house felt a bit like walking into a morgue; far too quiet, unsettling, the silence almost deafening!
My life has taken many turns through the years. Most of the paths I envisioned myself taking always seemed off course and the paths I did end up taking I never really planned at all. Everything changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst, but nothing stays the same forever. These days I am working a full time job, still a care giver to my eighty-nine year old mother, experiencing aches and pains in places I don’t even remember having, and oddly enough, missing things I once thought of as irritating. Still, I am blessed in many ways, still standing, and still smiling.
I miss the noise and commotion a house filled with children brings. I miss the door slamming shut oodles of times every day. I miss the constant stream of teenagers and even their appetites which left me in the poor house more than a few times. Would you believe I even miss cleaning the floors at two in the morning because that was the only time I could do it without someone walking across them to get to the refrigerator? Well, I do.
I miss having people always at hand to talk to, being able to share my thoughts about a book or movie, and most of all; I miss the feeling of accomplishing something every day just because I made them smile. I am really thankful they have cell phones so I can keep in contact with them as often as we need to talk to each other. I am also really thankful for the friends who still come home to let me share their lives as their “other mom.”
The nice thing about this time of the year is having several holidays in a close time frame. I had better start planning the holiday menus now. No matter where they go, what they accomplish, or who they spend their time with, they are still my family and my family is always the most important thing on my mind. The seasons will continue to change and we will change with them. As long as we are here to go through those changes we can still change the path we’re on at any time. The important thing is to never forget the way back home!