It was odd that it caught my attention at all, but at the same time how could it not? It was so completely unexpected and foreign to my eyes that, even though it was nestled unobtrusively among the still-green leaves, it literally took my breath away.
About five inches long, it hung as a tightly-packed group of dark-colored, woody pods, each one containing a brilliant, shiny red, plump, bean-shaped seed suspended from the pod by a single, white strand. I'm not kidding about the color - identical to the red of M & Ms, I'd say! If this plant had produced this dramatic show of fall seeds before, I somehow had missed it.The plant is a saucer magnolia tree, which we planted back in 1988 as a memorial to my mom whom we lost that year.
It is slow-growing - only about eight feet tall after twenty-seven years of growth - but faithfully produces huge pink blooms each spring.
Whether it was the unusually warm, dry summer, the tree reached some certain level of maturity, or other unknown factors, it lavishly produced five or six of these hanging seed clumps this year. Maybe I just happened to be working in its part of the yard at the right time. Whatever it was, because I think of it as "Mom's tree", it stirred up all kinds of memories of her.
It is often so easy to take those closest to us for granted. Precisely because they are so near and dear to us, they become a part of the fabric of our everyday lives, woven in so tightly and secure that we forget how precious they really are.
If we are fortunate, and fully aware, age and experience teaches us that life can change in the blink of an eye and we should NOT take anything for granted - least of all those we treasure. I have been reminded of this time after time, but more so recently...
· My loving husband - best friend ever, stalwart partner, robust worker, now facing physical challenges.
· My sister - living close by for the first time since I was two years old, facing failing eyesight, hearing, and the fragility of aging.
· Our adult son - struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, and unemployment.
· My youngest niece - dealing with health issues, unemployment, her Alzheimer's-affected dad, and a sister with mental illness.
· Our dear friend - solid presence and confidante, widower with young-adult children, who recently escaped serious injury from a falling tree.
· My "Coffee Klatch" ladies - each facing their own unique challenges with family members, health, disability, and aging.
· My community volunteer friends - dealing with family issues of dementia, addiction, failed relationships, worries for grandchildren, spouses, and their own declining abilities.
· All of YOU - whom I know, love, appreciate, and consider part of the greater family.
I am not alone in this; I only listed those above as a reminder that all of us carry burdens of concern for those we care for and love. Let us remember to be thankful now for those we hold dear - circumstances can change in an instant and tomorrow may never come.
I view the magnolia's brilliant red seeds and remember my mom's bright red lipstick, geraniums, and apple pie. I'm ever so thankful to have had her in my life...
I always thank my God
as I remember you in my prayers..