Do you ever stop and take a minute or two to look back on your life and look for patterns or even just wonder at the path you have walked? And as the various experiences along the path are remembered, what does the mental journey tell you?
When I was growing up we lived on the edge of a park which was bordered by forest, so our backyard was open to the forest. I spent a lot of time walking through those woods, on those well worn paths to and from public school, then high school, and to and from my friends' homes.
Back in those days, it was safe to walk those routes, if need be, after dark and this I did many a time. I knew those paths so well and even in the dark, I was seldom afraid. The moon would shine down through the trees lighting up the path in front of me. I knew well the main path which ran east west through the woods, and the path to our back yard was well marked.
Spending so much time in those woods meant becoming particularly attentive to the changes the different seasons brought to the forest. Millions of oak and maple leaves crunching under foot in the late fall, then winter snow covering the paths becoming well worn with footsteps from kids going to and from school; spring woodland flowers appearing on schedule...trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpits, dogwoods, violets...I remember them all and I particularly enjoyed this harbinger of spring. Then the long hot days of summer when the wood was in full leaf, squirrels busy gathering, chipmunks running in and out of the woodpile that was on the edge of the yard, various birds building their nests in the trees...
The pathways became so familiar. Even though the different seasons brought changes to the wood, the pathways remained the same. The paths took me to school, to the park, to friends' homes, and to my home.
And so it was a season in my life which I remember often.
The path I seem to be on now involves a new stage in my life as once again I intersect with my mother's path. She is moving into a retirement centre and for a few of us in the family this change represents a new stage in life that brings with it many mixed emotions. Together, mom and I have been sorting through her closet, cupboards, and drawers throwing out things that need tossing, deciding what needs to be passed on or given to the Sally Ann, and what will be kept to be taken to her new room.
As I have worked I find myself remembering the early days with my mother, when she ran a house, cared for 4 children, preserved jams and jellies, froze the produce from the garden, and kept many balls in the air. I have other memories from the stages since then that my mom has gone through. My life has always intersected with her life and now I find myself mentally addressing every stage of life she has experienced so far. And as I do this, I marvel at the path of a woman's life. The path is continually being walked...at different speeds...and changing seasons. How we navigate those changes, whatever they may be, determines our quality of life.
I am honoured to have accompanied my mom on her path and witnessed her life to this point. Even though there have been hard times there have been many joyous times. I am thankful she was a witness to my raising my children, and that my children knew her at different ages and interacted with her. She has been an important influence in their lives.
And now she is going to experience another season...one which I hope will bring her much joy and rest. She will meet new people, develop new routines, have new experiences, and while this is a little frightening for her, I think she will rise to the occasion and be a blessing to others in her new community.
The pathways a woman walks throughout her life take her in many different directions and through many different experiences. Our experiences are unique and mean something. What we learn along the pathway is important and worth sharing with others. Pathways. That's another post. Be well.