Being thankful for falling leaves

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Most Monday mornings I head to my office with my cup of wake-up coffee to start my column. Usually, a theme has been percolating in my mind all week, so when I type the first sentence the words begin to pour onto the page.

Today, I sit at my desk with my same coffee cup and all I can think of is, “Why is my neighbor’s leaf blower so loud?!” My percolating brain has been on the fritz all week. My mind has centered around getting ready for the holidays. Menus, wrapping, decorating and gift ideas have left little room for column thought.

I call my “go to partner” for help. “God, what do you want me to write about this week? Got any ideas?”

Again, silence, except for the leaf blower. I glance out my window to check how much longer I must contend with the noise, when a flurry of leaves falls past my window in a shower of orange and gold.

In the 1950s most folks owned a stereo housed in a piece of fine looking furniture called a console. Our house was no exception. My dad loved to play albums while whistling along with the music.

Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics to a French song from the 1940’s called Autumn Leaves. The song was recorded by many in the years to follow. To this day, when leaves start to fall in autumn I find myself humming its tune.

Even as I child, it made me sad. I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, but I knew it was about loss.

“Daddy, why do you play that sad song all the time?”, I would question. “Isn’t it about losing someone important?”

“Well, it depends on how you look at it.  You hear the loss and I hear the love,” he would answer.

Most all of us have experienced love and loss. Whether it was caused by death, illness, rejection, or by just waving a painful goodbye, it was still a heartbreak. Our grief hurts and is debilitating. We endure sleepless nights and long sad days.

There will be someone reading this today that is facing the holidays with enormous trepidation because of grief. Many will sit at a Thanksgiving table with one less person than was there last November.

They are wondering how they can get through today, much less the holidays. Many will say, “There is not much to be thankful for this season.”

I have a friend that has endured many loses in life. Both her husband and daughter are gone. Yet, when I see her face it is joyful. She honors their memory with her attitude and faith. God shines through her like a beacon.  Her tragedy has inspired others to heal and regain hope.

Yes, there are times I grieve about a loved one I have lost, but what a gift they were to my life. To experience love, to experience sharing a deep connection to another, and to have their existence cross my path is something to be very thankful for.

When I think of their love, I long to see them again. I long to have them be as they were; a part of my holidays, a part of my life.

However, am I happy they once were? You bet! I have found that losing is often a recipe for appreciation. I would not take anything for the love that God gave me to share with them. It is their love and my loss that made me stronger, brought me closer to God, and taught me how to lend a helping hand to a heartbroken friend. It was that pain that made me empathetic to others and made me write words that form sentences to share with you.

The loss of family and friends has made me appreciate those still on life’s journey with me. I am more aware how precious and fragile life is and how each person in my life is a gift.

This Thanksgiving we all need to look at the folks that are at our table and appreciate the love we share. We need to be thankful for a merciful God who aids us through tragedy and reminds us that no loss is ever truly final.

In my memory, I see a Thanksgiving table filled with family, I smell the roses he once gave me, and hear my father whistling a tune as the stereo plays on. I choose not to remember the pain of their loss, I instead choose to remember their love.

The leaf blower has gone silent and I smile as I watch the autumn leaves drift by my window.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former resident and writer who currently resides in Roswell. She can be reached at