It is finally autumn in Utah, and change is in the air. Trees are quickly turning from the verdant green of late summer, to the bright yellows and crimson reds of fall. We have watched the fall colors gradually descend from the upper mountain ridges, down the mountainsides, and into the valley. Yesterday was windy, taking a lot of leaves into the air, and all along the streets and sidewalks. As late and warm and glorious as this summer has been, and as warm and beautiful as it has been today, a change is clearly right around the corner.
Today (Oct. 16) is my mom Helen's 80th birthday. She has been bedridden for about 6 years following a brain stem stroke that left her mentally intact, but unable to regulate basic body functions like body temperature and sleep. My dad Paul, who is also 80, cared for her in his own home for several years, but can't do it any more. So just two months ago, we moved into a larger house that would accommodate both my parents and us on the main floor, and the rest of the family downstairs. We now have four generations, all under one roof! What a change! What a project! It has been so great having us all together.
Mom has certainly thrived since the move. With more family immediately around her, she is more awake, more alert, more involved, more talkative, and much more like the vivacious woman that we have always known. We sure enjoy our daily conversations with her, and her sense of humor.
But since the move, Dad (Paul) has lost a lot of weight and energy, and we recently found out why-- he has an unusual form of kidney cancer that has also spread into his bladder. Last Friday he had an operation to clean up the bladder, preparatory to removing the cancerous kidney. The operation went smoothly-- but the recovery did not. In the wake of the surgery, he has had a minor stroke, and a minor heart attack, and is now in the cardiac ICU, and though he seems to slowly be improving in health and strength, he has a rough road ahead.
So for her birthday today, we took mom to visit dad in the hospital. It was a beautiful drive to the hospital, enjoying the warm sunny weather and the fall colors. It was a loving and tender hour they spent together, and they both enjoyed it immensely. They love being together, even after nearly 60 years. Hopefully dad will be back home again in just a few days. But it was great to be able to give them some time together on mom's special day. They made the most of the opportunity!
It all reminds me that we never know how long we have, or exactly when the weather might change-- so it pays to make the most of every warm summer day while we can. We should live our lives with lots of warmth and love, and no regrets about missed opportunities. May we all fill our Indian-summer days with enough warm and loving memories that we can still feel the heat when we face the blizzards of January!
Here is a view from the front yard today (though too late in the day to really catch the sun on the mountains):