You know it’s fall when the Gala apples are better than sex and the cinnamon brooms are back in stock at the grocery store. Now, it’s important to have such cues here in Florida because we generally don’t get autumn temperatures until January, and then only for a month or so. Maybe the last week in December, but I can recall a number of Christmases spent around my brother’s pool, sweltering and unhappy.
Mom and I loved autumn best of the seasons. Perhaps it was because the cool, dry air felt so invigorating and freeing; perhaps it was because we were born less than a month apart at this time of year.
Today I told Tanya, the young woman who cuts my hair and used to cut Mom’s, that we had lost her. She began to cry. “I really loved her,” she said.
Today was also the first grocery shopping trip since she died. That’s not significant in itself, but I’m finding the times I miss Mom most keenly are the little moments when we’d be doing something mundane together. I’d always call her from the grocery store, and she’d say “I knew it was you!” and I’d tantalize her with some new tasty thing I had found; she’d ooh and aah appropriately, and we’d say we loved one another, and when I got home I’d cut up pieces of juicy apple for her, or let her taste the pot roast gravy.
And whenever I’d travel somewhere (this was years ago, when she could be left alone for a few days at a time), I’d call her from my motel room the moment I set my bags down. So of course I wanted to call her each time I checked into the motel on last week’s trip, even though I was traveling to and from her funeral.
But then I go into Mom’s room and see the boxes of medicine that I have to go through and get rid of. Yesterday the medical equipment people picked up her oxygen compressor and the back-up oxygen tanks. And I look at that bed which had held her for so long, and I sigh happily that she is no longer captive to those shackles, those burdens.
So I guess it’s appropriate that we both start new lives now, in the autumn. “In my end is my beginning,” wrote T.S. Eliot:
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.