I have witnessed this gift of nature ending the summer and welcoming the fall many times in my life. It has always been my favorite season with the crisp air, the leaves turning and the last hurrah before the winter begins.
This time, it was more meaningful with a specific reference to the ending of something other than summer. While the leaves were turning, my daughter, Joan, and I journeyed to visit with my daughter, Carol, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was difficult to be thousands of miles away feeling helpless. We had to make this trip.
The ride up to Rockland County was nostalgic, remembering the many years we enjoyed the scenes and family connections. I raised all four daughters there, and the memories flowed, both happy and sad ones. This truly was a bittersweet encounter with our past and present mission.
We spent several days visiting with Carol. All my girls gathered around her to show her our love and support. Carol was extremely focused as never before during her lifetime. She was lucid, unselfish and organized to the extreme. When first diagnosed, she did not want us to come but accepted our decision with reservation. Cathy and Barbara went first and did the groundwork that needed to be done. Joan and I came later, waiting patiently to do as Carol wanted and needed for her plan to remain concisely and deliberately focused on how to proceed in this horrendous circumstance that has affected all of us.
It was truly a blessing all of us were on the same level of thought. We know her condition is treatable if only for palliative means, but her attitude is something more than exceptional. She is filled with a variety of emotions…love, anger, conciliation, but above all, peace.
Her utmost concern is for her immediate family, her son, daughter-in-law and her precious grandson. She wishes to have privacy and peace continuing her life in a normal way as to make the transition for what must eventually be with as much ease as possible.
I am incredibly proud of her strength, courage and clear thinking in the most difficult period she will ever face. I am also so impressed with my other daughters who have come to grips with a situation that has come too soon in their lives. As a mother, I can only express my sadness and disbelief in this situation as it is not the normal order of life. This experience has a way of humbling us and teaching us how fragile life can be. It is so evident how much time and effort we waste on things of little importance.
Truly, the old cliché is meaningful. “Stop and smell the roses” as often as you can in your life, as I try to do in my time.
Linda Alessi is a Lebanon Democrat contributing columnist who writes about life in the golden years.