Friday, October 14, 2016

A hint of what was, still is.

Every year at this time, as the pink sedum which provides nourishment for the bees, butterflies and other insects begins to lose its pinkish shade and fades away, and the leaves begin to fall off the trees, I am reminded of my dear, late friend, Rose.

We were next door neighbors for many years while our children were young. This is a homemade gift from her, a one of a kind, priceless treasure. Here is the story that goes along with it, published in Voices of Breast Cancer in 2007 by LaChance Publishing.

Twenty years later, the leaves have lost their vibrant color and lustre, but a hint of what they were still remains. Rose told me I could trick the kids with the pieces of bark. Often I did as they counted. But soon they got wise and observant. So many lessons taught and learned with this and others like it.

                                                                 Autumn Gift

At 51, my friend Rose sported a wig and a raspy voice, the result of the debilitating cancer which had robbed her of her hair and her strength. She had more bad days than good, and as the weather cooled, the dark, wet skies mirrored her situation. After nearly a week of rain, the clouds lifted and so did Rose's spirits. When I came for a visit, she was alert, her voice halting but strong and assertive for a change.

"Take me outside. I want to sit in the sunshine."

She shuffled into the yard with her oxygen tank in tow. We sat in silence under the sugar maple tree enjoying the brisk breeze. I tucked her afghan around her. Hundreds of orange, gold and yellow leaves rained down upon us and made Rose smile. Memories of our twenty-five year friendship whirled in our minds like the leaves overhead. We were entranced by the waltzing leaves and watched as wind gusts swept them up and sent them dancing at our feet. The yard was very much alive, and so was Rose that day.

"Will you please get me that red leaf," she asked, "and that yellow one?" She pointed here and there, and I bounded about gathering brilliant orange, red and golden leaves in a huge bouquet as she orchestrated the activity. Rose soon tired and asked to go inside. I placed her leaf bouquet on a table beside her, tucked her in, and I told her I'd see her the next afternoon.

When I arrived the next day, she was glassy-eyed and weak.
"I have something for you," she said pausing breathlessly gasping between words. "Do you remember the big maple tree in the old neighborhood?"

When we were neighbors, the gorgeous towering tree, Mother Nature's masterpiece, was the focal point of our neighborhood each autumn. We were blessed to have it right outside our doors. We collected leaves with our children when they were young, and we made centerpieces with the colorful array that blanketed the lawns and sidewalks.

"I made you a gift." She handed me ten sheets of white paper on which she had arranged  and scotch taped the colorful leaves that she had collected the day before.
Tears welled in our eyes. "Do you like them? Can you use them?" she asked.

"Yes. I love them! and I will treasure them forever," I said.

Like the autumn leaves, Rose completed her life cycle at the end of fall. I laminated the colorful leaf collages, and every year I use them as a teaching aid with my preschool students. And I think of Rose as I tell my students about her and the leaves. We count and sort how many, talk about same and different.

"Leaves are like people, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Redwood trees are the tallest of all. Their roots intertwine. They support each other when the strong winds blow, sort of like when you hold hands with your best friend and it makes you feel safe."

This simple treasure is a priceless gift bequeathed with love, and it will keep on touching lives, just as my friend Rose did.

I am retired now, but Liam will be introduced to this on Monday. 


Val said...

That is a most precious gift.

jabblog said...

What a wonderful story, poignant and so full of love.

DUTA said...

Beautiful gift, and moving story behind it!
'No change under the sun'. Despite the progress made in medicine over the years, people still get terribly ill, suffer, struggle and die prematurely. It's God that decides in these matters of life and death and we should constantly pray to Him to keep us safe and sound for many, long years.

Connie said...

What a beautiful gift! I can understand why you treasure it.

Lynn said...

Beautiful story, Linda. I know you're sad about your friend, but I also bet she's watching over you when those leaves fall...

Bookie said...

Beautiful piece of work, Linda. More later.

Donna Volkenannt said...

What a lovely way to keep Rose's memory alive.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Sweet memory. Why is it we don't know that the memory we are making ill be so precious while we are making it? I am sill raw today. Maybe I will be this way for awhile. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts sent my way

Sioux said...

Linda--What a sweet story. It sounds like a CS story in the making...

Susan said...

Ohhhh, that was lovely, Linda, and tinged with sadness. Wow. 25 years you and Rose were dear friends. She is now soaring with the angels. Susan