It’s That Time of Year!

Fall is finally here again.  My favorite time of year.  I love the cooling temps.  We live in Houston so it’s mainly hot & humid like you would not believe.  Everyone here welcomes Fall with open arms.

I remember as a child growing up in northern Illinois walking to school in the fall.  My street where I grew up was lined with a number of huge oak trees.  As the trees would lose their leaves more and more would naturally end up on the ground.  People would rake them into wonderful multi-colored piles.

You have ONE guess as to what I’d do every time I was fortunate enough to come across a pile of raked leaves.  My cousins would come over on the weekend & we would go “pile hunting” up & down my street.  Every time we ran across one, well, let’s just say the pile wouldn’t exist as a “pile” for very long. 

Those were the good ‘ol days.  Life was grand because you were a kid and the biggest worry in your world was finishing your homework on time & studying for the occasional test.  Heck, most kids I knew didn’t even worry about that.

Every fall I grow nostalgic for home.  I yearn for the turning of the leaves.  We get very little of that here in Houston.  My sweet husband, in an effort to make me feel more “at home” planted two red oaks in our backyard.  They’re still babies, only just now turning 2 years old.  However, they’ve got enough leaves on them this year that I’ll finally be able to SEE fall, in addition to feeling it.  I’m so excited!  I can’t wait for their leaves to start turning.  I’ve examined each tree since the equinox, but still have no colorful sign of fall in my yard yet.  Perhaps tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.

As a kid, fall was always so much fun.  In addition to “pile hunting” (and the subsequent “pile jumping”) activities, my dad would take my cousins & I to the park every single weekend.  There weren’t many good park days left once fall hit.  Of course, when the snow came he also took us to the park where we had a huge hill and we’d go sledding.  I have many fond memories of fall picnics in the park, my mom insisting I wear a windbreaker while other kids ran around in short sleeves making me feel odd and slightly out of place.  Sometimes, if my cousins and I were particularly good, Dad would grab a big bag of McDonald’s hamburgers and we’d take that to the park, eat, and then play to our heart’s content.  

As an adult fall has come to mean more to me than just fun outdoors, cooling temps, and the changing colors.  It’s a time for reflection for me.  I think back to the good ‘ol days, but I also spend time thinking over the past year and all the things my daughter has experienced and accomplished, plus our experiences together as a family.  

Samhain is the pagan new year, the time of year when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.  Spirits walk amongst us all the time, but during this season we either become more sensitive to their presence or they become more forceful in letting us know they’re with us.  

As the Wheel of the Year turns and we begin a whole new cycle on November 1st, a new turning of the Wheel begins.  Where will you be next year?  How do you envision your life for the new year?  Do you have any goals you wish to work towards?

Personally, my main goal right now is to lose weight.  I started Weight Watchers on Monday.  Today is Day 4.  So far I have stuck to my diet, and on each day I’ve even been 1 – 3 points under my daily allowance.  As of tonight, if I don’t eat anything not on my pre-planned menu for today, I would have banked a total of 7 points this week so far.  That’s almost enough for a McDonald’s hamburger 😀  

What I wouldn’t give to be able to eat that hamburger in the park with my dad. The one year anniversary of his death came upon me suddenly on September 20th.  I knew it was coming up. My daughter’s birthday is the 14th, my husband’s birthday is the 15th.  I thought about Dad a lot those two days and the few days  leading up to the happy ocassions.  However, once the hubbub of preparing for the two birthdays passed, so too did my thoughts about Dad. 

In fact, I didn’t think about him at all, which was odd for me as he’s never far from my thoughts.  Having lost both my parents, Dad was the last to go, and only 20 months after Mom passed.  His death had remained very fresh for me, but the 4 days that fell between Stuart’s birthday and the one year anniversary of Dad’s death, I didn’t think about Dad one single time.

The anniversary of his death came and I was in the breakfast nook having my lunch.  I wasn’t even aware that it was the 20th.  We have a bay window there that overlooks the backyard and our deck.  There are gaps in the curtains. I can never get them to close completely.  That day the gap was rather large and as I sat down to eat I made a mental note to myself to fuss with the curtain once I was done eating.

There I was, minding my own business and eating when quite unexpectedly I saw movement outside the window out of the corner of my eye.  I turned just in time to see my dad.  He was wearing a light blue jacket, the one he’d always wear in the fall, and he had on a straw fedora.  He walked right past the windows towards two rose bushes I have at the end of our back porch.  He was looking straight ahead so I saw him in profile.

It takes the mind a couple of moments to gain any comprehension whatsoever when something like this happens. It’ also amazing how quickly the mind works.  My very first thought was, “Oh my God, someone got into the backyard and is trying to break into the house!”  That thought was quickly followed by, “I’m seeing things!”  As my mind wrapped around the image my eyes had seen it became quite obvious that I had just seen my dead father walk past the bay window.

I jumped up.  I would guess only 3 – 4 seconds had passed. I ran to the back door, which is right next  to the table.  I flung it open calling out as I did so, “Dad?  Dad?”  I walked along the back porch where he had just walked.  The air felt charged.  The best way I can describe it is that it was like when you stick a finger between the prongs of a plug just as you’re putting it in the electrical outlet.  You get this slight charge or a zing! goes up your finger.  That’s what the entire back porch felt like to me.  

I didn’t see Dad, but I felt the aftermath of his visit.  As I stood outside slowly the air returned to normal.  There was no sign that the spirit of a loved one had just paid me a visit.

I came back in the house to find the phone ringing.  It was my cousin Rosie.  She and I had grown up like sisters and she and her brothers were the ones my dad would always take with us every time we had an outing.  Rosie and her brothers had dearly loved my father as if he were their own.  

Rosie informed me she had stayed home from work because she wasn’t feeling well and then she realized it was the one year anniversary of Dad’s death.  She reminded me of something Dad would always joke about to us kids.  He would start to make scary “ooooohh, boooooo” sounds and tell me in front of them that on the 1 year anniversary of his death he’d come to see me.  Rosie had called to remind me to keep an eye out for him or any sign from him.  I had totally forgotten about all the times Dad would tell me that.   I almost allowed the phone to slide from my hand as I realized that – as with ALL promises my dad ever made to me that he kept that promise to me, too.  

Samhain is a time to remember our loved ones and to honor them.  On Samhain night don’t forget to light a candle & place it in the window.  It helps to guide the spirits back to their homes.  At dinner you may wish to set up a plate of food for your departed loved ones in honor of all the love and blessings they brought to your life while alive.

Believe me, your loved ones are still around you and they would very much appreciate being remembered.

Wishing you all the brightest of Samhain blessings!

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