Into The New Season

When Rob was a little boy and riding with me every morning, he to day care and I to school, we would watch the changing seasons together. We rode on a beautiful road with many trees and handsome homes, traveling from our town through two others before reaching the town where we would both spend our days.  As we approached the Burger King at an intersection, he would politely ask whether we had extra money that morning. If I said no, he’d say nothing more. If I said yes, he’d ask (politely again) could we stop to buy a little box of mini-muffins for him to share with his day care friends, and we would.

Rob, age four, dressed for his birthday amid the foliage.

Rob, age four, dressed for his birthday amid the foliage.

Each fall, when he was little, we would appreciate the amazing foliage we were privileged to enjoy along our way.  I told him, the trees always put on their best colors for his birthday, which fell in mid-October. Living here in New England, we knew that the wonderful autumn temperatures and colors were a treasure that blessed us, compensating abundantly for the summer’s sweltering heat and the winter’s prohibitive blizzards. Some mornings on the ride we said little more than “Look at the trees in the wetlands … they are always the earliest to turn.”  And inevitably, a few days later, we would comment on how many leaves had fallen from the maples and oaks that lined our route.

As he grew his school was in our own town, until middle and high school, when I brought him back to the town where I teach. Again we shared those morning rides, but he was older now, and often had headphones and his own music flowing into his ears. Our conversations dwindled to nil, and I coached myself to respect his ‘alone’ time on the morning ride to his busy high school days.  And in time, he began driving his own truck, and we lost our morning time together.  For a few more years, though, I continued to enjoy those morning views of dawn breaking as I drove through one town and then another, and always thought of him and said a prayer that his day would go well.

The trees still dress in their best colors for his birthday. This year, maybe we can travel together, with Rick and perhaps Rob’s girlfriend, to Maine instead of to school, admiring the foliage, and visit with Trish and the kids to celebrate Rob’s birthday amid the falling leaves.

Yesterday, Rick and I drove into Boston and met with the dermatologist for yet another three month skin checkup. He noticed many more spots on my face that he wanted to treat, and we talked about the cream he had prescribed three months ago. I told him it was much worse than the cryosurgery ever was, and so he decided to go with the freezing again. He also looked at my forearm where the malignant melanoma had been eighteen months ago, and agreed with me that the reappearance of brown spots was reason for more biopsies, and he did two of them.  I’ll hear the results in a few days, and if the cancer has returned I’ll go back to the surgeon and have it cut out again.  In the meantime, the frozen spots on my face will again crust over and fall and eventually fade.

I haven’t been back to school to visit my friends in their classrooms this year. I may wait until November or December to do that. Maybe by then my face will again be clear of treatments and scars, and my smile will be genuine.

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