fall fruit and a visit with mom
I just returned home after visiting with my mommy and stepdad for a couple of days. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to see my mom because of an acute health issue that has been plaguing her. This post is dedicated to other people, like me, who have aging parents.
On Monday morning after breakfast, mommy was feeling well enough to go shopping, so we popped into our favorite decorative shop in her hometown. Where I found this group of jumbo-sized basket-weave apples and pears. $12 for the set of 5 pieces? Sold!
Mommy recommended that I get a few sprigs of pyrachantha to go with them. (Those little orange straw pumpkins are only standing in temporarily.) She told me that my daddy’s mom used to always have blooming pyracantha in the fall along her fence.
We talked about a lot of things, as we usually do when we’re together. But her illness prompted me to verbally enter a territory that I previously had not ventured. I asked whether her will specified her particular wishes for burial or cremation when she died. The meandering conversation that followed left me feeling that this question, among many others of vital importance, was not completely resolved in her mind.
About a month ago, I read this article by Adolph G. Gundersen, published in the Washington Post: Siblings Joined Forces to Help Their Parents Celebrate Life and Plan for Death.
I highly highly highly recommend this article. It’s a compassionate and common sense approach to conducting a family meeting and finding ways to realistically support the wishes of parents concerning living arrangements in their later years and the distribution of their assets after they die. In families like mine, where my brother and I live 500 miles away from our mom, thinking through logistics and reaching agreement with each other, and our mom on how to best support her wishes would be better accomplished in a forum described in the Gundersen article, rather than over the telephone with doctors and on plane trips to Oklahoma during a stressful episode.
Occasionally, my mom will give me something from her home. Something that has been in our family for a while. She’s not really ready to give much away right now, although she frequently suggests that she is. But again, the dichotomy of our perspectives. The things to which she attaches value and the things to which I attach value, are much different. I attach value to the things that remind me of my own childhood.
On this visit however, she gave me a pink depression glass bowl.
I have vivid memories of the dish holding candy-cinnamon poached apples on our family’s Thanksgiving dinner table. What I didn’t know about this pink bowl, is that my grandmother started the tradition of using it to serve her candy-cinnamon poached apples. Later, she gave the dish to my mom. While I don’t honor the family tradition for making candy-cinnamon poached apples, I do like to make merlot poached pears for Thanksgiving.
And this, my dear friends, is my circle back to the basket-weave fruit at the beginning of this post. The natural association of apples and pears in the season of autumn helps me reach across two generations to keep my grandmother’s tradition alive in my own home. Happily, after being absent from the family table for nearly 20 years, the pink dish will again adorn the tabletop.
Thank you for reading.
In this season of thoughtful reflection, may we find ways to heal, to understand and to give. Give even more than we think we should.