Leaves of My Generation by Valerie J. Patterson

Every family tree—large or small—has many leaves. Some are fresh and new due to the addition of new babies. Some are brightly colored as relatives enter the prime of their lives. Still others are weak and withered. Each branch of the family tree represents a different family line whether it be aunts and uncles, grandparents, or nieces and nephews; you want your family tree to have multiple branches. Strong, healthy branches. Branches that spread out and reach for the glory of the sun and sky.

The problem?

As with earthly, planted trees, each family tree goes through periods of losing leaves that can never be replaced. Each leaf that falls from the tree represents a loved one lost. Taken from our view and our lives, never to be replaced.

As we age, there are milestone leaves, if you will. These are losing grandparents, followed—hopefully many seasons down the path—by losing parents and relatives of their generation. Those milestones are life-changing events. Those cause voids that will never be filled. My husband and I have both experienced the loss of a parent. Our lives were forever changed by their passing.

But what about when the leaves of your own generation begin to fall from the tree? How do you handle those losses? These are perhaps the kinds of losses that not only narrow your world, but also cause you to take stock in your life and to look around at who remains.

Unfortunately, I’ve already begun to see the leaves of my generation begin to fall. On September 8th I lost my cousin, Walter. On September 15th I lost my cousin, Bobby. Bobby and Walter were brothers. As I sat at the memorial service for Walter, I slowly looked around the room. Even though I still saw the cousins I played in leaf piles with, or rode bikes with, or spent countless overnights with, or went to camp with, I was struck with the realization that we had—dare I say it—gotten older. Walter—perhaps among the eldest of my generation—was still the young man I could remember seeing in a military uniform when I was very young. Bobby, his junior by eight years, was still the older cousin I fondly remember taking the time one evening to sit with his younger cousin (me) and actually talk with me about any subject my young mind wandered to. I could easily remember these guys bounding down the stairs of their home and rushing out the front door on their way to see friends or girlfriends or whatever.

Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to Bobby, and as I write this, I still have trouble grasping that the leaves of my generation have begun to fall from my family tree. How I wish I had the power within me to catch them as the wind whisks them off the branches and gently stick them back in their places.

Life is a gift, and today is a present to be opened and shared and enjoyed. Take the time to look at the colorful leaves of your family tree, then reach out and hug them and tell them you love them because you never know when one will fall from the branch never to be replaced.

Until next time, I hope when your feet hit the floor in the morning that a smile tugs at the corners of your mouth and your day is full of bright sunshine and wonderful blessings.

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17 responses to “Leaves of My Generation by Valerie J. Patterson

  1. The leaves that fall still enrich the soil for the new saplings, remember that and be comforted.

  2. So beautiful Valerie, so beautiful…..Pam

  3. Oh,Valerie. Such a loss and so close together, too. It’s got to feeel overwhelming. My heart goes out to you and your whole family.
    We are visiting with life-long friends at the moment. I consider them leaves on our tree and I’m going to go hug those leaves.
    Survive the day. Enjoy the memories. And thank you for the eloquent reminder to enjoy the here and now.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Laurie, so glad you got to spend time with friends close enough to be called family. Hope you had a great time and that you were able to build new and lasting memories with them! 😛

  4. A beautiful post and a reminder to savor the day and make memories. Thank you Valeria

  5. Please accept my condolences on your recent loss, Valerie. As words of comfort I must say, as you write, “I wish I had the power within me to catch them as the wind whisks them off the branches and gently stick them back in their places,” that they have now gone to their new place, where they await you. 🙂

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thank you for your warm thoughts, PJHarjo. 😛 They are much appreciated. I hold on dearly to the promise of God that I will see my loved ones again. Yet, it is so difficult to say goodbye.

  6. What a beautifully written post, Valerie. So very sorry to hear of the loss of your cousins and so close together, but how lovely that you have such beautiful memories to treasure. Thank you for the timely reminder to treasure our own precious leaves.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thank you, Tricia, for your warm words here. I get the sense from your posts that you rarely miss the opportunity to tell AJ how much he means to you. You two sound like the perfect match! 😛

  7. What a touching and beautifully written post. It takes a loss of someone close to sometimes make you sit up and take note to value the family you have around you. Treasure the memories and make time to create new ones to cherish. 🙂

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Very wise words, Kit. Oftentimes, people don’t realize how short life is until they experience a major loss. I’m all for making memories! They sustain us, don’t they.

  8. Hugs on your losses, Valerie. I know what you mean about losing those close in age to us. Seems harder, doesn’t it.

    This was a lovely tribute post and I like the way you used the analogy of falling leaves.

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