I love October, and other news

October 8, 2018 | My Jottings

It’s my favorite time of the year, even my favorite month, I would say. October is everything I love. Cool and brisk but not bitterly cold. Drier air after a record-breaking sauna of a summer in our “air-conditioned city of the north.” Colorful leaves everywhere and not the bare starkness that tends to dominate our landscape at the end of the month. The furnace hums, the soup simmers, the SmartWool socks are a daily thing again. Chickadees and juncos and blue jays swoop to my bird feeder and empty it every couple of days. Squirrels scurry around our front deck, gathering the fallen seeds and making Mildred the Schnauzer pounce at the French door and bark shrilly when they come too close for her liking.

Here are a few photos I’ve had on my phone for a while. I’ve never seen leaves like these below — usually when I see maples turn, the whole surface of their leaves uniformly fades to yellow or red or orange. These leaves are turning red in odd blotches and they give me a queasy feeling. Do you have the same reaction to seeing them or am I a weirdo? If I think of the red as paint spatters, I’m good. If I think of it as disease, it’s a problem. You can click to enlarge if you like.

Even though it has been 1,337 days since Michael moved to heaven, the senior grief support group I’ve been a part of still meets for lunch twice a month. Here are a couple of shots from a recent lunch:

These people are so precious to me. We have picnicked and lunched and Timber Twistered and cried and listened and encouraged and assisted and hung out.

I have been dating a man who I know from this senior grief support group. He and I have been friends for 2 1/2 years now, but last year he began inviting me to go to lunch with him, on walks, to the symphony. Even though the thought of being in another relationship after being married to Michael for over three decades seemed absurd to me years ago, my friendship with Lloyd has developed into something easy, enjoyable and fun. He is very kind and gentlemanly, and we laugh together and have good conversations. I think I have grown more open to having a male companion because he is so different than Michael. I don’t have to compare them, because there is no comparison. And I don’t ever want to compare Michael to anyone, because he was one of a kind and will always be the love of my life. Lloyd was married for 51 years and cared for his wife a lot longer than I took care of Michael, and he has two fantastic children with her. She will always be the love of his life. But our common bonds of widowhood and faith have smoothed a pathway for us to enjoy each other’s company, and we have made some wonderful memories together.

Lloyd and his wife Rose raised their family in St. Paul, and they retired to the north woods of Minnesota almost twenty years ago. He lives an hour south of me in a log cabin he built himself, on eighty acres of forested land, with a long and winding driveway and two ponds. He sees bear, deer, and wild turkeys (he named one older, lone female Beatrice), and at night he can hear wolves howling in his woods. There’s a huge bull moose in his area right now that neighbors have seen.

Many of you have prayed for me during these past several years as my Michael’s battle with Parkinson’s grew more difficult. I will never forget the words of love and comfort I received from you when he died in early 2015. Grief’s crushing weight and stifling darkness does ease. I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing Michael, and I easily cry if I’m still for a while and begin replaying memories in my mind. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t thank God for all that Michael did for me. He loved me with a pure heart and worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known to make a life for us. He taught me about praising the Lord and trusting Him. He never wavered in his faith in Jesus, and that is a legacy I treasure.

Lloyd and I are making plans for the future, but we are also taking one day at a time. Because we are senior citizens (how did I go from 15 years old to 61 in just a few short months?!) who lost our spouses, we are keenly aware of how important it is to savor the moments and take nothing for granted. We literally do stop to smell the roses. And we marvel at mushrooms that grow in hollow trees, like these:

We saw an old man with a bulbous nose and a bushy mustache there. Do you see him? The next time we walked, The Old Man in the Tree was gone, but we were happy to have caught sight of him.

Thank you for stopping in to this little blog. I pray for God’s love and peace to blanket you all today… no matter what.