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The Fall of Life

Story ID:2978
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Tantallon Nova Scotia Canada
Year:1995
Person:Me
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The Fall of Life

The nights grew longer - the air cooler. Leaves changed
color. Migrating birds made their way south - fleeing winter.
Fall is almost here - my favorite time of year. A walk through
the forest - a trip to an art gallery. The trees compete, each
a work of nature's glorious art.

A canopy of color shaded me. I stood under them, looked up,
and saw sunlight streaming through the branches. It struck each
leaf. They reflected it with an un- imaginable brilliance.

In the quiet of the forest, I heard a small snap. A single
leaf floated delicately to the ground. A light breeze stirred
the branches - a multicolored snow storm. The colored flakes
landed on my head and shoulders. They cover the seeds and nuts
the trees dropped earlier. Some had small sprouts already
reaching to the sky.

The seeds of new life were soon buried under a cover of
delicate and dying leaves, a cover provided by the tall trees
standing over them. The leaves protected the future from the
cold winter to follow. In spring, the leaves decomposed and
provided rich nutrients to nourish the young - new generation.

A week later I was back. I wanted to enjoy the season
before it is gone. The leaves rustled under my feet. The air
was scented with the odor of dampness and decomposition, as
the leaves began to decay - a pleasant smell. I shuffle along,
pushing the leaves in front of me. They parted and swirled
around my feet like the water on a beach. My heart was heavy.
Another year was gone.

At home, I looked in the mirror - a hint of grey at my
temples. I noticed a few more in the whiskers on my chin and
a few chest hairs followed suit. The hair on the top of my
head, like the leaves, were mostly gone. I'm in the fall of
life. Could my winter be close?

I sat in my chair, tried to watch a game on television,
but I couldn't focus. Where did my spring and summer go?

My son walked by. He was a tall, healthy, and good looking
young man. "See ya, Dad. I'm going to work." The door closed
behind him.

I thought of the trees, the seeds, the nuts, the leaves,
my children and grandchildren. Like the trees, I spread my
seeds and protected them. They grew from seeds and sprouts,
to tall, strong saplings.

The trees and I have weathered many storms. We swayed
and bent under their force, but we stood over our young,
sheltered them, and covered them when they were cold.

My heart felt lighter. Fall was not the beginning of
the end. It is the past protecting the future. One day, a
storm will blow in and I'll topple over - winter. The young
I sheltered, free of my shadow, will take my place to protect
the next generation - my job complete.

Michael T. Smith