There's an old adage that says happy the bride the sun shines on, blessed are the dead that the rain rains on but despite that folk wisdom, on a beautiful September day, when the sun shone and the sky was so blue, at the breakfast table that morning my Granny said, "I'm glad it's a pretty day. I'm glad it's not raining."
It was the day of my Uncle Roy's funeral in 1974.
By that stage in my life - I was twelve, soon to turn thirteen - I had said farewell to two great-grandmothers and my beloved grandfather, Pop. But my uncle wasn't really old, just fifty two so it was different as well as sad.
I think of him often, especially in September, the month where he died and when I do, I think about a song that had been popular earlier that year, "Seasons In The Sun", by Terry Jacks.
It's a poignant song, perhaps a little heavy for the pre-teen girl that I was but I loved the song and after he passed, I wondered if he had felt similar emotions as he watched the world from his bedroom. Uncle Roy spent the last years of his life in a single room, after a double amputation of his legs. At first, I had shied away from going into that room but on the last time I saw him, he asked for me to share a few bits of family history with me and I went. I looked only at his familiar face and realized he was the same uncle despite the major changes.
I have never forgotten the song and still, on occasion, listen to it. This stanza has always stood out for me among the others:
"We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the hills that we climbed
Were just seasons out of time."
The song has brought me comfort at times of loss, including as a widow.
Widowhood is like a new garment, one that doesn't quite fit and isn't quite right. I've found you have to wear it for awhile to get used to it. Even then, like some shoes, it still occasionally brings moments of pain. Those often creep up unaware.
In the last months of my husband's life, he was at Seneca House because his health had deteriorated until he was also bedfast. He had a window, though, that looked out over a small line of trees and a patch of sky. And, as often as possible, when the weather was fair, we rolled his wheelchair out to the front porch.
I ran across a photo I'd snapped of him there, a good likeness, and shed a few secret tears. It's probably the last picture I ever took of him so I treasure it.
Those days on the porch were our last season in the sun together but at the time I didn't know that.
Another verse from the song says:
We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the wine and the song
Like the seasons have all gone."
In the twenty months since his passing, my life has changed and continues to do so. In the earliest days of my widowhood, other widows told me to take baby steps. I have and at last, I make slow progress.
Our seasons together are gone and I accept that now. While I still mourn the loss of both husband and uncle, both named Roy, and many others, I embrace the seasons in the sun that remain for me.
September marks yet another of those seasons.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the community editor for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author.