Dear Mom,

When we were together recently, you snuggled in the Halloween sweatshirt given to you by your granddaughter Molly and your great-grandchildren, Grace and Gannon. You wore a scarf to keep your ears warm, and I tucked you into Dad’s old wheelchair and covered you with a bright green afghan. We took an afternoon walk along a path where “Leaves covered pavement like soggy cereal.” (Patricia Cornwell wrote that in her novel, THE BODY FARM, and the simile perfectly described our walk in southeast Kansas.) To quote Gordon Parks, renowned writer and photographer who grew up in Fort Scott, the day proved that “…Half past autumn has arrived.”

Gone were the Halloween cookies, replaced by bread for the ducks that waddled up to greet us. There was a chill in the air. While it was still afternoon, the evening gloom began to creep in.  We returned to your apartment, ready to eat a hot meal together in the living room where every ceiling light, table and floor lamp had been turned on to keep the early darkness at bay.


Outside was a mixture of post-summer/pre-winter. I remember how you always used to smile at the signs of autumn, welcoming the dependable sequence of changes in nature and life. Your genuine appreciation for fall taught me to appreciate it as well…to view it as a time to slow the pace of life, and to watch, listen and learn the quiet lessons.

Thank you for teaching me that there is a time, a place, and a purpose for every stage in life…and it’s all good.   I love you, Mom.  Marylin

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1



Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren


  1. Marylin, you wrote another heartfelt post. Wonderful 🙂

  2. juliabarrett

    Makes me cry, Marylin. I needed to read this tonight.

    • I hope it was a good cry, Julia.
      Writing parts of this post made me kind of weepy. The things my mother accepts and trusts–the way she patiently waits for something good in every situation–remind me of the fragility and impermanence of life, and how I still have so many lessons to learn.

  3. “Half past autumn has arrived.”—Love that. It really does sum up this time of year well. 🙂

  4. It’s 9.43am on Sunday morning Marylin, and unusually I am not long out of bed. For some reason I had a terrible night and feel as if I saw every hour on the clock. It’s grey outside and pouring with rain Ishbel is getting ready for work (how I hate Sunday opening) and I am sitting at the kitchen table with a coffee before a shower and taking Ishbel out.

    I will return and do the ironing, prepare a casserole for Ishbel returning and then in the middle of the afternoon, I too have to pop out to work, I never work on Sunday’s as a rule, as the company I am working for have cut a deal with a local council to regenerate a town centre which means that the local swimming pool is being closed and handed to us for demolition, much, as you can imagine, to the chagrin and anger of the local residents, we take control of it later today as they close the doors to the public for the last time, and I have to attend!

    So, all in all, a bad night and, excuse my use of the colloquial, a shite day!

    Once again, though, it becomes a little more bearable on reading another beautiful letter to your Mom, thanks my sweet xxx

    • You have to be there when they close the doors for the last time? No wonder you couldn’t sleep last night.
      On one of my trips to visit Mom, as I drove through a little town they were closing the general store. Most of the shops on the main street were already empty, and locals–including children–were carrying out sacks with their final purchases. I felt like I was driving past a funeral.
      In the UK and the US, and everywhere, I think, we have our emotional landmarks, and losing them is like losing a friend.
      Thanks for sharing this, Tom, and I wish bright skies and a better day for you tomorrow.

  5. jakesprinter

    Beautiful post my friend 🙂

  6. Molly

    Another FAN-TAB-U-LOUS post, Momma. Everything that you write about Grandma is so true….Grandma always found the good in everything! She was the closest thing to Pollyanna that I have ever met! Grandma is still, but was especially phenomenal! I think that the Ecclesiastes verse is my favorite, and I think that I really did pick up that feeling from my Grandma!

    Thank you for painting such an accurate/beautiful picture of Grandma!

    • You are so like your grandmother, Molly. You share her quiet, core values in your heart, but you also find colorful, fun ways to brighten gloomy days. When you and the kids sent her the fleecy Halloween sweatshirt, Grandma hugged it like a happy child.

      • Molly

        I really have always felt that I do have a lot of Grandma “in me”! Just like everyday that passes, I see more and more of YOU in GRACE……it is definitely a Grandma/Grandaughter thing!!

        LOVE IT!

  7. Your mother looks very contented in her picture…must be nice for you to see. Ah, yes, the passages of seasons and time…all ticking away, like it or not!

    • Bless her heart, but even with the confusion of the advancing dementia, she makes the best of her situation and takes things in stride. On this walk to see the ducks, she made little sounds, little callings to them, and seemed to enjoy every minute.

  8. Perfect word pictures–and I Ioved the actual pictures, too. What a sweet memory.

    • Thanks, Nancy. The only downside of autumn for me is the increased possibility of bad driving roads between here and southeast Kansas each month. Everything else about the season appeals to me, and I got this from my mother.

  9. ryoko861

    Touching! Brought a tear to my eye!

  10. Beautiful story and pictures of fall!

  11. Marylin, your posts always choke me up, make me smile, make me miss my mother more. And yeah, it’s all good.

  12. Love the picture of your mom in her orange attire, a gift from loved ones. I particularly like your simile of “walk in leaves like soggy cereal.” Perfect fall description. This makes me smile.

  13. Thanks to you all. I’m glad that we can smile at the pictures of my mother enjoying an autumn “adventure,” but also choke up at the memories of others dear to us. We’re all in life transitions, and this time of year reminds us of that.

  14. You are so lucky to still have a wonderful relationship with your mom – lovely post. Thanks for visiting.

    • When I was growing up, she was the mother, not a good buddy or a pal, but my mom. When my daughter was born, Mom became a great grandmother.
      Now it’s come full circle because of her dementia. I’m in the role of the mother. But I do consider myself lucky because we do still have a
      wonderful relationship.

  15. I love that quote from the Bible … and your touching story. It made me wish my folks were still with us so that I could share it with them. I know they’d love it – especially my Mom.
    You’re making beautiful memories, Marilyn.

    • Thank you, Judy. Sometimes when I’m with Mom I’ll remember a detail from many years ago. As I tell her about it, Mom might remember it–her long-term memory is still fairly good–and she’ll add details I didn’t know. I’ll want to pass the story on to an aunt, a cousin, or her good friend who was a close neighbor for many years. Then I realize that all of them are no longer with us, and it’s only the memories and stories that keep them alive in our hearts.

  16. Hi Marylin,
    I left a thank you message on my blog for your awesome comments about my greeting cards. May I have permission to use your comments as a testimonial for my cards? 🙂

  17. dianabletter

    Your writing about autumn is beautiful. Acceptance of what must pass on…I really liked your descriptions and details of the scene–and the loving way you take care of your mother.

    • As you know, Diana, it’s taken me awhile to reach this stage of acceptance. But this visit was a clear, gentle lesson in the falling leaves, not just about the seasons in nature, but also about the changes and seasons in life.

  18. What a lovely, caring essay to your mother. Wonderful.

  19. I was feeling a little down today, but reading this brought a smile to my heart. I just love how you honor your mother in this way.

    • I’m glad this helped, Darla.
      Some months, when it’s time to drive to Kansas again, I’m just not sure I’m up to it. But it always turns out that I’m glad I visited my mother. Writing this post brought a smile to my heart, too.

  20. I so enjoy and am very touched by you letters, Marylin. Although I do have some good memories about my Mom, I didn’t have a wonderful, even somewhat close relationship with her and in some way, it really helps to read about yours. Very touching!

    • Thank you.
      I’m so sorry about the relationship you didn’t have with your mom. While I was growing up, Mom was, well, just my mom. A very good mom but not a buddy, and she stuck to her guns about what I needed to do or not do.
      At the time I didn’t realize why several of my friends from school kept asking to come over, to study or hang out or whatever, when they always ended up in the kitchen helping my mom, talking to her. It turned out that they couldn’t talk to their moms.
      If my mom didn’t have dementia now (so bad that sometimes she doesn’t know who I am or even who she really is) I’d invite you over to cook with my mom and talk to her, to be one of her “other” daughters who needed a mom.

  21. What a sweet thought! Thank you. I get to know her through you. Thank God for mothers like her.

  22. They were great links; Thank You..
    Yesterday we attended our Social Dance as usual. An older gent (who is in incredible shape physically) is experiencing a very dramatic onslaught of dementia. It has taken us all by surprise, particularly his long time partner who is beside herself with confusion and grief. Such a sad loss..!
    Any knowledge that we can have to help those with this terrible malady, and naturally, for ourselves can only be for the good…
    Thank You for your wonderful memories and this blog. It highlights life for us as humans in all its wonder and its sadness…

  23. Ron

    Wet Autumn leaves really are like soggy cereal. I also noticed that they taste bitter until you add a little sugar.

  24. You’re welcome, Ron. You have had a Tetanus shot, right? ;=)

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