The trees in Lebanon, Ill., are shedding their fall foliage, and our yard is becoming a patchwork of earthy hues – yellow, brown and rusty red.
It's time to rake and mulch autumn leaves. That sounds like work, but I'll think of it as healthful, joyful exercise in our crisp, chilly, November air.
This autumn has been a difficult one, because I have lost several loved ones since the fall season arrived. They were not unlike beautiful leaves that have fallen from my tree of life. Just like leaves, they breathed fresh air into my life and gave me comfort and added color to my world. And now they are gone, but life must go on.
Gone now are my brother, Stan; my sister-in-law, Gerry; and my dear friend, Gus.
My brother was eight years older than I, so when we were growing up, he was my great protector. Any bully who picked on me would have to answer to my big bro. Stan always called me Thomas Earl. Nobody else has ever called me that. I'm sure going to miss it.
Gerry, Stan's wife, was a jolly lady with a big smile and distinctive laugh. She brought joy into many lives. I wrote about her in my blog, several blogs ago. Read "Godspeed, Gerry," and you will understand the joy of which I speak.
Gus Villanueva was the Navy medical corpsman in my Marine Corps reconnaissance team in the Vietnam War. He took me under his wing when I arrived in the Nam, patched me up when I was wounded, and he remained my close friend for life. Even though he has passed on from this life, he will remain my good buddy forever.
I will think about these lovely people while I'm working in the yard this week. I know they will give me some oomph in my step, an effortless sweep to my rake, and pleasant memories to keep my brain from burning out during all the leaf gathering.
The next thing you know, it will be Thanksgiving. I shall give thanks that Stan, Gerry and Gus colored my life so beautifully.