The Autumn of Our Lives

By Erin Hein

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” ?- John Burroughs

What is Autumn to you? For me it’s cinnamon spice candles. It’s gratifyingly sharp fresh yellow pencils, comfort food, and lovely scarves. It’s jagged-edged construction paper pumpkins with crooked crayon and glitter smiles beaming at me from the fridge. It’s the unfiltered joy that my young children still find in the PERFECT leaf, and it’s the pile of scratch paper covered in Halloween costume ideas, each more unreasonable than the last, left on the table by my seven-year-old son. (He thinks he is settled on being “The whole continent of Antarctica” this year).

It’s the time of year, they say, when the trees show us how beautiful it is to let go of the things we don’t need. I love that sentiment. Not just for the Fall season each year, but for the Autumn season of our whole lives. I relish the idea that aging, and even dying, can be the most beautiful season of our lives. That we can let go of whatever baggage we need to let go of and we can blaze our brightest, truest selves in the process.

For some reason, our culture tends to shy away from the elderly and from the whole process of aging and dying. It’s such a missed opportunity to connect and to soak up wisdom, to delight in a perspective that only that very person could share with you. It is so disheartening to think of how many people in our society live out their Autumns out-of-sight and out-of-mind.

Anyone who has lost an older loved one can relate to the feeling of wanting to call that person up to ask about a turkey recipe they never thought to write down, or the story of how a grandparent met their love, or the lyrics to the lullaby from that old music box. When a person is gone, so much more than their personality and the sound of their laughter slips from our grasp. All of the little things and big things they knew and remembered, slip away with them too.

So as we bustle around in this season of cinnamon, pumpkins, sweaters, and thankfulness let’s remember to take our cues from the trees. Let’s let go of something we have been holding on to for too long. Let’s call our Grandmas and reach out to retirement homes. Let’s worry less about dying and more about writing happy endings for ourselves and being a part of the happy endings of others. We don’t all get to know when the Autumn of our lives will be. Share your colors now and cherish every moment, so that when your time comes, you can drift peacefully out of this world, beaming your colors.

Erin Darst Hein is the daughter of Anne and John Darst of Darst Funeral Home. She grew up in Kingwood and lives here with her high-school-sweetheart-now-husband Evan and their children Jack (7), Caroline (5), and Ian (3) and they are expecting a baby boy in early December.

Darst Funeral Home is always here in your time of need. You can reach us at 281-512-5656 or visit our open-concept garden funeral home at 796 Russell Palmer Road.