In the collage of life’s seasons I feel I’m enjoying the robust days of late summer. I know the transition to fall and slumber of winter lay ahead of me some day, but today is not that day. My own mortality comes to mind as it has been a year of loss and too many funerals. After losing my mother in March, my oldest daughter Kate lost her father-in-law in April. Last month we lost a friend.
My wife Anne and I just attended a memorial service for her uncle. Lynn was a retired physician and professor of family practice medicine living in Madison, WI. Lynn’s surviving wife Sally is the younger sister of Anne’s dad George. Anne and her siblings spent much time frolicking with her cousins while growing up. The cousins remain close to this day.
You learn much about a person at a memorial service. Lynn was another member of the vanishing “Greatest Generation”. His was a life of service. Through his career in medicine, his community service, his love of family and strangers, he gave to others. He was a renaissance man who excelled in music and shared that love with many.
I didn’t know Lynn well, but was honored to attend many family gatherings with him over the 27 years that I’ve been married to Anne. I did have the privilege of participating in one of his passions. He accompanied several of us to a Great America theme park so he could ride several wild rides. In learning about his life-long adventures, I think he took on life as a thrill ride in many ways.
One Lynn’s daughters, Katie, lamented about the example our parent’s generation set for us. It is a high bar to match their achievements. They survived growing up during the depression, the war years and the stresses of rapidly changing times, yet persevered and built successful lives. Not only for themselves, but for their communities. How do we match up to those achievements? I’ve often felt same feeling of inadequacy with the passing of my parents, their siblings and spouses.
On the way home from Wisconsin today, Anne and I stopped at the Great River Bluffs State Park near Winona, MN. While traversing the pathways and overlooks of the Mississippi River valley I thought about perspective. About the paths we’ve traveled and those yet to explore. We can’t be our parents, but we can set our own example of weathering the storms of loss and getting back up when we trip over the roots of stress. We need to strive to be kind to others while never forgetting to live our own thrill rides. We should relish the changes in the colors from all of our seasonal vantage points.