Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I can't really know why. There is a certain sense of calm that seems to arrive when all the promise of Spring and Summer have either been delivered, or not arrived.
Obviously the year itself is a metaphor for the various ages that we all grow through. The spring is your youth, the summer your twenties and thirties, and then autumn is your middle age, and winter is your later years.
No longer are there all these expectations. Life simpy is what it is, and the miracle that it is becomes more real. All the things you used to think were important, at a certain point for many of us, become meaningless. We don't really care who drives the bigger car, or lives in the bigger house. But we do remember the times we spent with the people who love. The moments of laughter, hope, peace and happiness. Of fire flickering, moonlight shining, rivers rushing and the wind rustling the brown leaves across the bare branches. Of the people who touched us and moved us. People who were there for us as we were for them.
I sit at my Dad's bedside and hold his hand. He has a tube that goes into his nose to feed him, and he can barely see out of his left eye. He recognizes me. I can hear him say my name just barely. And he begins to talk, and though it doesn't make any sense, it doesn't really matter. He is talking to me. I listen and nod, and tell him what is happening in the world. I know that he can hear me. I tell him I love him. He tells me he loves me.
It is difficult to see what has happened to him. He was a successful doctor, played classical piano, flew airplanes, read anything and everything. His knowledge about practically everything was always amazing to me, and we talked about the world. His universe was a very big place. He had a grand palace inside his head that he could visit at any time, and now that I think about it, it gives me solace to know he had a rich, inner life and I shared it with him.
Of course there were times when he bored me near insanity. Other times when I thought he was simply wrong, or dismissive, and other times when I came away convinced he was absolutely right. He had that capability. His insight was always deeper than most people could appreciate. It is not arrogance to say so. It's just the truth.
I went into his office a few months ago and looked around at the books, the piano, the chair that he sat reading in. His desk. The music collection. Of course I cried because I knew he would never be there again. There was just this empty space where he was.
And that is Autumn. And I remember one of his favorite Shakespeare sonnets.
That time of year
in me thou mayest behold
when yellow leaves, or few, or none
do hang upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
bare ruined choirs where late the sweet bird sings,
in me thou seeist the twilight of such day,
as after sunset fadeth in the west,
which by and by black night doth take away,
deaths second self, seals up all in rest.
In my thou seeist the glowing of such fire,
as on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
whereon the deathbed it must expire,
consumed by that which it was nourished by.
This thous perceivist, which makes thy love more strong,
to love that well, which thou must leave, ere long.