Summer’s slipping away, slowly but surely, as August moves out and makes way for September. There is an almost imperceptible change in the atmosphere, a subtle softening in the leaves. Growth has come to a standstill in the garden, with drying cornstalks and withered bean vines.
Wild morning glory vines wind through the dying vegetation, velvety trumpets of blue and deep pink decorating the cornstalks and lending bright spots of color to the brown garden. I can still hear my dad growling about the persistent vines that appeared every year. He would exclaim, “That’s Mommy’s fault — she planted those pesky things in the yard, and they scattered!”
After all these years, “Mommy’s” (my grandmother) morning glories remind us of her, and her love for flowers. I can see her now, in her sunbonnet and huge apron, puttering around her herbs and flowers. She raised catnip for the babies’ colic, tansy for women’s problems and flowers for the soul.
Wild asters, one of my favorite fall flowers, are beginning to bloom along the creek bank now. There are 24 different species of this flower found in our state, from the honey-sweet, white heath aster to the most beautiful of all, the New England aster. These common, blue-petaled flowers grow in clumps along the creek in wet, marshy places. When these begin to bloom, you can know that fall is very near.
One of the surest signs of autumn is the yellow school bus that scoops up our children, after a summer of play, and deposits them at the school building. This year we had two granddaughters, and two great-granddaughters, march proudly off to school. It seems only yesterday that we saw their fathers and grandfather begin their education. How could time pass so fast?
Morgan, our firstborn great-grandchild, was the first to go. Her mother, Regina, Grandmother Sarah, and I watched her walk down the driveway to the bus, and our hearts were full. With her long, dark braids swinging and book bag strapped to her back, she looked like an illustration from a child’s story book. She had cousins on the bus to look after her, and she was full of excitement.
Molly, her younger sister, started to preschool today. She was joined by Taylor and Belinda, the two granddaughters. Morgan, already the seasoned student, took Molly by the hand and led her down the driveway. There is a pang in the heart to realize that these little girls are taking their first step toward independence.
We were full of anxiety (after all, these were our babies!) and they came home bubbling with excitement. They loved school! We were more apprehensive about Taylor, as she is a shy child. I kept remembering how her father, Andy, reacted to his first year of school.
His birthday was late in November, so he was almost seven when he started. (These were the days before preschool and kindergarten.) He was my baby for six years before Matthew came along, and to say he was attached to me is an understatement. I visited the school on Parent’s Day, and when he saw me, he threw his arms around me and buried his face in my stomach, crying like an abandoned child. (I guess he felt like one.) That was hard on both of us.
Belinda (Matthew’s) had learned to cope with three older sisters, so we felt sure that she would get along just fine, and she did. It helps to have familiar cousins in the same classroom.
It is with a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye that we see them leave the safety of the home and enter another world. We train them up in the way they should go, and try to instill in them moral standards and love for God. Then we have to turn them loose in a scary world.
It’s a lesson we have to learn over and over. We speak of “my wife,” “my husband” and “my children.” Actually, they are not ours at all — they belong to God. Everything that we hold dear in this life is only loaned to us.
When we remember our children are God’s possession, we can trust Him to take care of His own.
That is why we pray for them in this manner, when they are off to kindergarten, to high school, to college or wherever, “Lord, you have entrusted us with these children, and we have done our best to raise them right. Now we pray you will protect them from harm and danger, and from the evil influences of this world. They belong to you, Lord; please fold your arms around them and keep them safe.”
The wheel of time has turned again, and another generation of children begins their journey toward adulthood. The path seems to stretch endlessly before them, but in looking back, it was a short journey after all. Short indeed, since the time I entered school, and now I am watching my great-grandchildren go.
A verse from a poem by Ellen A. Jewett says this: “Life is a stocking,” Grandma says/ “And yours has just begun/ and I am knitting the toe of mine/ and my work is almost done.”
Give everyone my love,
Cousin Alyce Faye