• Tana Daughtrey

Memories and the Winter's solstice

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

Memories light the corners of my mind Misty water-colored memories of the way we were Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were

Marvin Hamlisch


Each year as the Winter Solstice approaches, I see the trees losing all the different fall colored leaves. I remember growing up in my hometown raking the leaves into a pile with my father. Eventually we’d have a huge pile of colorful leaves for me to jump in. For as many years as I could, I jumped into piles of leaves. I don’t jump in piles of leaves anymore, but I see the leaves that fall as I look from the windows of the house, I live in.


About 18 years ago I planted a red oak tree in the front yard. Since that time, I had 2 more red oaks planted in my tiny yard. The 2 recently planted oaks are full of all the fall colors prevalent here. The original red oak, however, the one I planted, is holding on to its leaves, even its brown leaves, as tight as it can. I marvel at this tree and how it holds on to these leaves even as we approach our coldest winter days in December and January. This tree acts the same every year. As other leaves fall, and part of its own leaves fall, the red oak holds on dearly to a few of its leaves.


I understand this red oak. I bought it and planted it. In a way I am that red oak. I hold on to those things I’ve loved in my life as I go toward the winter solstice. I hold these memories tightly. These memories, these leaves, as I picture them, are the memories that make my life rich with a depth of color I can only know by loving others and allowing people close to me.


My dear childhood friend, Carol. We sat in her bedroom and dreamed dreams. She wanted the house with the white picket fence and children. I wanted fame and fortune. We thought these dreams would all come true. What I watched that came true was Carol grew into a beautiful woman who ended up married to this wonderful man who loved her very much. She was my friend. She had herself together and at peace even at a youthful age. She deeply believed in God and that belief and her faith guided her life. She taught me about Faith. She died of breast cancer when we were very young. It broke my heart. I’d had breast cancer at about the same time, but I’m alive, here today. Like that tree, I’m holding on to her memory.


If we are lucky, we are blessed to have a friend like I had in John. John was my gay friend. He, unfortunately, died of aids before it was a treatable disease. John and I worked and traveled together for several years. We laughed together, and he supported me. We talked many nights away during our out of town trips. He was a dear friend. I loved him so, and John taught me so much about Love and Hope. He and his lover had hope even when his blood count said there was no hope. I am a better person for knowing John. Like the tree, I hold on to the memories of John and I and our travels together.


My ex-husband, Alan. We were married about 10 years. He passed away several years later. I spoke at his memorial, and I remember him with love and the fondness of a past love. The divorce and the time just before the divorce were not good, but we had good years. In my memory I hold on to those good years, the fun, the laughter, and all that he taught me about my chosen profession, life and Love. He loved me unconditionally. He introduced me to his family and now they are my family. His first wife, his daughter and I spend time together frequently. I have family now because of his Love. As the tree I hold on to his memory, and I was blessed to have lived several good years with Alan.


Leaves fall from the trees. I watch them go. I’m sure you too have lost or will lose someone close to you, and it is painful. Each Winter Solstice that passes brings more losses of those close to me. Letting go is never easy. For some help on how to let go, look at my blog called Loss of a Loss of a Parent. There is also my blog called Soul Marks which talks about the losses we experience.


Remember, each person that enters our lives brings a new richness, a new color, a new memory to our lives. Our lives are filled with the multitude of different colors like those I see on the trees planted in my yard. Each person who has stopped to spend time with me in my life brought a color, a depth to my life that I never developed alone. Those mentioned above have enhanced my life bringing me a greater understanding of Faith, Hope, and Love.


It’s like looking at my red oak tree. The tree will hold on to its leaves, it’s life memories, as we hold on to those we love. Some leaves cannot stay with us through the Winter Solstice. Others hold on until the Spring. The Spring comes again. Hope brings new life. As the new leaves start to grow in the spring on the red oak, the old, dead leaves drop off. Eventually we let go of the dead leaves, holding on to our memories and the love we have for those gone. Then, we have the faith that our life starts again, and our hope for the future as spring brings new leaves to the red oak trees.


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