In 2002, shortly after I moved into Jim's home, we heard (and felt) an enormous crash in the wee hours of the morning that signaled "Taps" for the 250-year-old oak tree around which our patio was built. In falling, it took our chimney, our fence, a cherry tree, our neighbors' second-story deck, and issued a reminder about impermanence.
This morning I looked at my youngest grandson, wearing a shirt that just a few short months ago hung below his bottom, with sleeves half-way down his arms. This morning, it fit him.
In 1998, I few to the Midwest to meet my first grandchild and to marvel at where the years had gone since his daddy - my middle son - was a sweet, sleepy baby in my arms. Next January, Andrew will be a teenager.
In 1970, I held my first baby in my arms, marveling at the perfection and beauty of this long-awaited child. This month, Martin will be 40 years old.
My younger sister and I spent our growing-up years alternately playing together and fighting with each other. We shared a room and taped a line down the middle over which we dared one another to step. She took all of my dolls under the dining table and pulled off their arms and legs. I either ignored her or treated her with disdain through most of my teenaged years. In a few months, my baby sister will be 60.
On Monday, Jim & I stood gape-mouthed, staring up at one of the three tall old fir trees that stand next to our deck. We were sick with the realization that the abundance of fir needles in our yard this Spring is due to the death of this beautiful old tree. A phone call will have to be made, the tree will have to be felled. We will benefit from it one more year as we burn the wood during the winter. And we'll still have the other two to enjoy for a few more years.
Change. Transition. Uncertainty. Of such is life made. But no matter how hard I try to remember this, no matter how many times I promise myself that I will appreciate each minute, each day, each event, as unique and transient, I continue to fail. I take things for granted, whether they be trees, seasons, relationships.
Perhaps that is the nature of humankind.