Fall and the Circle of Life

My father passed away a few days before Thanksgiving last year. As I get closer to that date, I’m reminded of what my experience was at this time last year when my dad was admitted to the hospital, and then long-term care until he passed. 

This time of year was a traditional trip home for me to visit my parents and siblings. Home is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Keweenaw Peninsula to be exact, and all my family still lives there. My parents’ anniversary is in October and it is the height of the fall color season, which made it a perfect time for a family visit. It’s also the latest point of the year I will travel there to avoid weather delays because of snow.

 Me, my dad and my mom on our annual road trip to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula to see the fall colors.

Me, my dad and my mom on our annual road trip to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula to see the fall colors.

I won’t be making it back home this year. I’ve made several trips in the past year, some by plane and others by driving. The drive is long and isolating and construction extended my drive time quite a bit on my last trip earlier this summer.

The change of color in the leaves I’m beginning to see here in Chicago is making me think back on last fall. My usual trip was not to enjoy the colors, but to be with my family as my dad entered his last few weeks of life. A trip that is usually one of nostalgia and a reconnection with my roots became one of melancholy, sadness and fear.

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As the fall season unfolds, I remember those days back home with sadness, but also a little peace in recognizing the circle of life we all live in. Each year I get to see the colors change is a blessing. And each fall will have more meaning for me as I recall many years of fall trips home to see my dad and the rest of the family, going on car rides to see the changing leaves.