A TIME OF CHANGE
October is a time for change. Here in Oklahoma, the hot season of summer is on the wane and we’re getting nights when the slight nip of fall is in the air. It is my favorite time of year. As a child of the country, and then a farmer’s wife for so many years, my life has always revolved around harvest of one sort or another. If we weren’t picking something from the garden to freeze or can, we were harvesting a crop. I’ve had my fill of that life, and do not miss long hot days in a wheat field, or cold wet days trying to save yet another year of a peanut crop from ruin.
And so it goes.
Now my life is always in a cycle of change. From the birth of a story that I dream, to the long hours of work getting it on the page. Then sending my new baby off to a publisher, praying they don’t cut it up too badly or rename it without my consent. Babies are precious, even when they’re books, because it’s a creation that comes from the heart. All this is a part of what I am, and what drives me to keep writing. Any work worth doing, is worth doing right.
Daily, I witness the changes in my little mother’s hold on life. She is in the autumn of her ninety-third year; a life in which she’s persevered and conquered that which would have laid a grown man in his grave.
She’s buried two of her three children; seen her ex-husband to his grave. Lost her parents, her only sibling, and every friend her age she’s ever made. She was a child of the depression. She lived through the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and stayed put with her family when others turned tail and ran for their lives. She’s outlived everyone who knew her as a child, and when that happened; when there was no one left to know the story of ‘remember when’ – a part of her died with them. Now her memories are all confused. Ninety-three years of living all jumbled up in her head. She’s changing, and I, as her only living child, stand mute witness to the deterioration and struggle not to weep.
Daily I remind myself that change comes to all of us, and change is good. Were it not for change, discoveries would never be made. I would never have known what a magnificent person my little mother really is; had I left the care of her last years to someone else.
She’s wicked funny, when she can remember the words she wants to use. She doesn’t like to be wrong and will never admit it. She likes things clean, clean, clean, and has OCD to the point of obsession when something is out of place. And within all the ‘stuff’ that comes from turning into the adult version of your little self, I have also seen her fears and felt blessed to be the one who stood between her and emotional devastation, just as she stood between me and danger when I was her little girl. She spent thirty-one years of her life educating other people’s children, and although she’s been retired since the early eighties, she still marks each day by if it’s a school day, or if it’s not.
My mother’s love for chocolate has never changed, and she has stashes of it all over her room. I know one day when I am going through her things I will find little hoards tucked in out-of-the-way places. I have already made myself a promise when I find one to have a piece of candy on her behalf.
As this October continues, I have seen great changes in her spirit. She’s done with this place, but hasn’t learned how to let go. I will cry some on that day, but I will also rejoice that her change of residence will have nothing to do with the love I have for her in my heart.
And, as I move through the changing seasons of my own life, I don’t have to look back to remember. Some things you never forget.