Gosh, I do love this time of year. Cool crisp mornings, bright blue skies, and the leaves turning the most gorgeous colors ever. God’s paintbrush at work every day this month, and into November too. I guess it’s the colors that make Fall my favorite season, yet it’s a bit bittersweet since I always now relate autumn to the season my mom died. It’s been 6 years since mom went to heaven, and I still think of her often and guess I will miss her until the day comes when we meet again. During one of her last weeks of semi-lucidity she looked outside and saw the brightly colored yellow leaves on our tree and said… “oh it’s so pretty outside, I guess winter is coming” and then “maybe I’ll make more raspberry jam and can more peaches next year”. Man, did that ever bring a tear to both my dad’s and my eyes. She didn’t quite realize at that moment that she wouldn’t be with us the next year when it was time to harvest the bounty. But we knew it. Another morning, just a few days later, I helped her get up and dressed and settled her into her chair in the living room. I fixed her a cup of coffee and brought it in to her. She held the mug with both hands, so old and thin and veiny and said, “Oh I DO love coffee. I think I always have!” Funny how you can appreciate the smallest of things, even at the very end of your life. One afternoon I was sitting with her on the bed and she said, “bring me my purse” which I did. Somewhere in the back of her mind she sort of remembered that I was out of a job at that time and money was rather tight. She opened her purse, took out her wallet and said, “I want to give you and John some money”. She took out two twenty-dollar bills (which was all she had in the wallet) and said, “here, take this, it’s not a lot but maybe it will help. I thought I had more in here, but I want you to take this”. She gave me everything she had. I didn’t want to take that money, but at that moment I thought it would be SO insulting not to take it and thank her graciously. So I did. I pocketed the money and told her how sweet and generous she was and many thank yous. Later, I gave the cash to Dad and said, “there is no way I can take Mom’s money, but it seemed to make her very happy to give it to me”. My mom was very old school. Lived through the great depression and knew better than anyone the value of saving money everywhere she could. I know she thought I was very frivolous at times, but underneath, beyond our differences she was a wonderful mother and we loved each other SO much. She often made me feel special when she’d remind me how thrilled she was to have a little girl – and what a wonderful surprise it was to have a baby when one was least expecting it (I came along when mom was 42). I fear I didn’t live up to her expectations in many ways, but I do know I was loved, no matter what – and what better gift can a parent give a child of any age, but unconditional love? What an example I’ve had from my own parents. And honestly, I have tried very hard to make my own sons understand that I love them unconditionally also. It may sound crazy, but even if they did something really horrible, like Ted Bundy for example…. I’d hate the crime they committed, but I wouldn’t stop loving them – and praying too. So here’s to Autumn, and memories of mom. I’ll love you always.