A Lady For All Seasons
Her back, bent at the shoulders, makes her appear shorter than she really is. Her thinning, hair, pulled tautly back into a long, narrow braid that rests on the collar of her blouse, indicates she is a no frills person. But the first thing we notice when we enter her room is the pictures on her walls. As colorful as any rainbow after an April shower, each picture holds special memories for her. An artist’s rendition of her with blushing skin and spring in her eyes hangs next to a black and white photograph that was taken in the summer of her life. It shows her dressed in a work shirt and jeans, holding a favorite cat, with their cheeks touching. The caption reads "...... And family."
Next to the pictures is a row of calendars. One calendar of spirited horses reminds her of her days as a farmer tending livestock, and another has pictures of songbirds with the bird of the month, a redheaded woodpecker. More times than she can count, she had heard one of those birds pecking away at a tree while she checked her cattle.
Another calendar has a larger than life, crimson rose looming over the days of the month. She looks at that rose and remembers how much she enjoyed working in her garden and flower beds. The next calendar is three cuddly kittens, looking mischievous enough to bounce out of the picture and chase each other around her room. She remembers her barn being full of cats. They were useful to catch mice, but to her, they were playful company. The last calendar has on it a beagle standing with one paw in the air, looking as if he might chase after a rabbit. He reminds her of a large, black dog named Major that she raised. He wasn’t smart enough to be a stock dog, she said, but he was her dog.
She and I have a rural life in common. I see the seasons of her life within her when I talk to her about what it was like on the farm. She giggles a youth giggle, her head bobbing up and down, as I tell her about a sitting hen that pecked me. She shows a look of concern when I talk about a problem I have with my animals as she remembers the summer of her life when she was tending livestock. There is wisdom from the autumn of her years as she offers me advice gathered from her experience in farming.
As I talk to her, it makes me wonder when I see how quick her mind works what it would be like for me in the winter of my life. After helping take care of people with Alzheimer’s disease, including my father, I question, "Will my mind go dormant like my father's did, or like the lady of all seasons, will I have my own rainbow with a pot full of memories at the end?"