This week has been filled to brim with lessons and underscoring of life's cycles, seasons and God's always-fulfilled promise of renewal.
This Redbud tree graces my backyard. Its called the Forest Pansy tree. We have two other Redbuds in the front yard, Western Redbuds. My friend, John Petach, a wonderful northern California artist, made a great argument for planting these about eight ago. They're slow growing and provide four seasons for we Californians who seem to have fewer.
In spring the Redbud offers a showing of these profuse and beautiful, more-pink-than-red buds. The buds are followed by leaves. Green on the Western, deep red on the Forest Pansy. Both heartish shaped. These take us through summer when, the Western version adds magenta pods. Leaves and pods turn to brown in fall, and drop. Winter in both trees leave the leafless tree that speaks to the barren rest of winter, preparing, gestating to spring.
I love these trees and all the more as they progress through their cycle.
The pondering alongside, is the loss of a dear, dear, family matriarch, my Aunty Margie. The earthquake of my 7th year brought a baby sister, a departing father (and doggy) and new neighbors. The Foscos, Margie and Fred, moved in to the house next door and brought their three kids, Barbara, 16 and model beautiful, Nancy, 14 cute, darling, fun and the one I wanted to be just like when I grew up, and Freddy, 12, a lanky blond mystery called older boy.
Margie saw the effects of loss in our house and quickly enfolded Mom and we girls. We were granted side door access and spent our days running in and out of the Fosco house. We attended graduations, had the best baby-sitters in the world (Nancy did my hair and make-up, taught me how to eat bags of sunflower seeds and could read a Nancy Drew book in one night), ate bowls of Mostaccioli at every family gathering, watched TV, played cards and every Christmas Eve after going to church, went directly through the kitchen door to one of our best Christmas traditions, time with the Fosco family. We held conversations across our two facing kitchen windows and often just saw the beckoning arm - come over. The family had big borders too. Auntie Margie's parents, her brother and sister and their families were all part of the celebration and Uncle Freddie's family would visit from Chicago. There was always a recognition that we were in the midst of comfort and joy. My sister and I received love and correction and laughed loads within this family. It was all our normal daily fare. Uncle Freddie would tease me about my love of those Bums - the Dodgers (it was his team too unless the Cubs were in town). My sister was teased about how she drove her VW into the driveway, stopping an inch before the front porch. On a dime. Margie allowed the escaping into her house in my teen years when being at home wasn't always my very first choice. We shared weddings and births and were connected in a simple, expected way, the way neighbors can be.
At 89, Auntie Margie passed on and we all gathered again to celebrate her going on to Glory. Freddie's son, Nick created a beautiful slide show of his "Gigi's" life. I absorbed every picture. I learned bits of the life before ours. I never knew she was born in Texas. What I knew and what I experienced all over again as we gathered and ate and talked is this: She was filled with a very happy love. She met the perfect man, Fred Fosco, and grew this family with joy and laughter, leaving all kinds of marks in all kinds of lives.
The renewal here, is in the gathering. In the connected lives, who love each other because she, when her beloved and both of her siblings were gone, when loads of grandchildren and great-grandchildren were born, just kept enfolding every one as if they were maternally hers.
In this loss, I see the cycle. There will be, I suppose, some dormant time, but I see the promise of this spring too. Barbara and Nancy are grandmas now. As I sat with and watched two of their beautiful daughters loving their babies, I saw Margie's love all over.
There is so much satisfaction, and I am blessed, in the confidence of Love and Renewal.
I love you Fosco family. Good bye Auntie Margie, may you rejoice in the arms of the others who love you too.
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