Today, I’m sharing a journal entry I wrote many years ago. It’s in loving memory of my mother who went to be with the Lord, unexpectedly, 25 years ago, at the age of 55. I miss her every day, but the fall season always makes me miss her more.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
Proverbs 31: 28
Autumn was her favorite season of the year. It’s also the time of the year when I miss her the most. It’s the season when old memories are awakened once again with the rustling of fall leaves.
I approach the old farmhouse, so familiar, yet so foreign. Now empty and abandoned, it has never been the same without her. It was her presence that brought life to the old farmhouse and made it warm and inviting. I glance up, almost expecting to see her smiling face looking out the kitchen window.
Instead, I am greeted only by multihued leaves dancing across the yard, proclaiming the arrival of fall. My mind is filled with recollections of fall flowers swaying about dressed in the finest shades of yellow, orange, and crimson red. I can almost see her kneeling by the flowerbeds, garden trowel in hand, sweet look of contentment on her face.
I recall plump orange pumpkins lining the porch steps, beckoning visitors to stop in for homemade pumpkin pie and gingerbread. Various gourds, pumpkins, and cornstalks decorated the yard in the fall. Our yard never reassembled the yards seen in Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living magazine. Our yard was a place to have fun. Leaves weren’t raked up, hauled away, or burned. Leaves were raked up into a pile and jumped in while mom laughed and took pictures of us with her old Kodak camera.
Aromas from mom’s kitchen signaled autumn’s arrival like the changing leaves and the falling temperatures. There was always an abundance of apples and pumpkins at harvest time. Visitors were enticed into mom’s kitchen by the smell of fresh-baked apple dumplings and apple pies that lined the farmhouse table. Pumpkins from the garden were turned into cinnamon-spiced treats. Melt-in-your-mouth homemade bread awaited us on chilly evenings. Homemade soups and stews simmered on the stove all day, ushering us in from evening barn chores.
I recall treasured memories of afternoons spent with mom in the kitchen learning to bake. Too small to reach the top of the table, I stood on a stool while she patiently taught me to bake my first batch of brownies. It never seemed to matter if flour got spilled on the floor or the table was a mess. Housework never seemed to be very important to mom, and she always had time to stop whatever she was doing to spend time with us kids.
Memories surface of us kids getting off the school bus and seeing her waiting in the doorway, always smiling and happy to see us. Homemade cookies, still warm from the oven, often sat on the old farmhouse table, welcoming us home after a long day at school. Mom always made time to listen to our silly school stories.
Many days, life itself seemed to revolve around the old farmhouse table. Home-cooked meals were served there, but it was much more than just a place to eat. The table held the old Singer sewing machine on days when mending needed done or when mom was cutting out a pattern to sew new clothes. It was the place where homework was done, laundry was folded, and board games were played.
No expensive or designer decor ever graced the old farmhouse table. It always displayed a homemade centerpiece. We helped mom gather brightly-colored fall leaves from the yard each year. The leaves were placed on a tray and surrounded by miniature gourds, Indian corn, and tiny pumpkins. Mom never had the need for anything expensive or fancy. She was content with her faith in God, being there for dad and us kids, and taking care of the old farmhouse.
Staring at the old abandoned farmhouse, the golden leaves dancing beneath my feet seem to be in tune with the bittersweet emotions racing through my mind. It seems like just yesterday I was a little girl jumping in the leaves. I was a little girl standing at the table baking pumpkin pies and brownies with mom. Childhood seemed like an eternity then, and death was a distant thought – something that happened to old people. Mom was a constant presence in our lives – the one you could count on – the one I thought would always be there.
As sure as the arrival of autumn always awakens old memories each year, it also induces new seasons of life. Those carefree childhood days with mom by my side seem so recent, yet so distant. I’ve since grown up and have watched my own four children grow up. Now my grandchildren are the little ones standing by my side.
I pray that one day the memories I leave for my children and grandchildren will be as sweet as the ones my mom left behind for me – memories that might once again be awakened by the rustling of autumn leaves.