Beginnings and endings

Several weeks ago, a friend was lamenting summer’s end as we drank margaritas on her deck. We chatted and watched the western sky glow.

“Summer’s the best. Every year it’s a different story,” she said.

“I hate to say it, but I’m glad it’s over,” I replied.

It’s autumn now. I hope your summer was a magical story. Like following ribbons of roads on cross-country adventures. Hots dogs, sun and too much beer in the bleachers. Sleeping with the windows open, the invisible tree frogs humming as day turns to dusk, nature’s lullaby. A swim in a cool Wisconsin lake.

Mine was a season of beginnings and endings.

The beginning of a new story for my son, who moved to Los Angeles.

The ending of his grandfather’s story, who moved into hospice.

It’s happy and sad.

It’s young turns to old.

It’s like summer and winter.

For me, fall is the best season. I think pollsters should ditch politics and instead determine the country’s favorite season. It’s lolling around my head now, the blubbering and the bickering.

“Winter’s the worst. You’re an idiot!”

“No, it’s not, you lazy buffoon. I ski and skate.”

Reminds me of fighting with my siblings back in the day.

I digress. Sorry, I like sharp turns. Anyway, I don’t know about you, but Jan. 1 never seemed like a beginning to me, like Happy New Year. Fall takes that trophy. Once I started school, every school year seemed like a new year. New classes, new teachers, new friends, new everything. The anticipation of cracking open the year like a fresh book.

When we dropped off our son at O’Hare, cars were honking and swerving as I hurried to give him a hug. Then, just like that, he went. Wait, shouldn’t there be fanfare? Balloons dropping? Confetti? Nope, it’s a story as old as time. He turned and gave me a quick smile before going through those automatic doors while I tried to photograph this monumental heading off. I’m slow with my phone, so I missed it. Anyway, all I saw was a small boy with a Thomas the Tank engine backpack walking into preschool that somehow morphed into tall man heading to the west coast. Thomas’ smile replaced by a red Kelley logo.

I visit my dad as his story is ending. He is in a peaceful corner room on the second floor of his nursing home. The large windows keep his room bright and provide plenty of space for the family photos lining the sills. We watch the leaves as they start to change from green to gold.

Life is full of seasons and stories. Enjoy them all.

— Lisa Seplak of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].