I recently visited the US. My parents were moving into assisted living and so spending some time with them seemed the correct thing to do for a multitude of reasons.
Its the first time I’ve been in the Midwest in October in a very long time. The leaves were at their peak of color. It was absolutely stunning. I walked through a pile of leaves just to feel that fun feeling of leaves shifting around as I shuffle, the sound of leaves rubbing against each other…
Namibia also has seasonal changes, but they are more subtle. One needs to tune into them more closely to notice them. There are changes in temperature and precipitation. Everything turns green in the rainy season and fairly brown in the dry season. But different trees/bushes/plants bloom at different times of the year. There is jacaranda season, those little yellow fuzzy thingies season… Different insects are more abundant at different times of year as well.
But still, Midwest US fall leaves are stunning. However, I noticed the irony of embracing the beauty of the change in climatic seasons, but resisting acknowledging any beauty in the change in the seasons of my parent’s lives. If they weren’t there already, moving into assisted living truly places my parents squarely in autumn. Its hard to see them not as the strong, vibrant and sharp parents they were when I first met them – when I was in spring and they were in summer. I used this observation to explore whether I could embrace my parent’s autumn, as I embraced the leaves. Its all just change. Beautiful change.
I don’t look at the colorful leaves and long for the green leaves of summer. I embrace the leaves as they are in this moment. Can I do the same with my parents? The tendency is to remember how they used to be and be saddened by the “loss”. Can I embrace who they are today as beautifully perfect just as the leaves? No loss, just change.
I remember when I was in spring, my parents in summer and my grandparents in autumn. Since this was all I had known, I assumed it to be the natural order of life. Now that I have moved into summer and my parents to autumn, I see people in spring who seem to believe that they will always be there, just as they assume I have always been in summer. I want to tell them that my parents were once in summer, I was once in spring, but just like me, I’m sure they won’t hear it, until they reach summer as well.