Autumn of the mind

I’m not sure I have ever seen a maple tree in full orange and gold Autumn glow before I came here to Quebec. This week, I will be participating in the global Co-operative Business Summit hosted by Desjardins.

Today, though, I travelled to Toronto to see my uncle George in hospital. His is a brilliant, gentle brain – one of the foremost actuaries in Canada – now diswired, with dementia.

I hadn’t known what to expect, didn’t know what I could bring except that to be there could be a token of love from my own side of the family. What I experienced was a deep and moving sense of an Autumn in our lives – the culmination, the colour, the cycle, the anticipation of loss.

No, he couldn’t recall what he’d had for breakfast, if anything, even when my cousin, Peter, talked through it all.

But there by his bed, with Peter and Michael, I started an old London music hall song that my father would sing when the family was together. Four words in, ‘A mother was bathing….’ and George and I were singing the verses, word perfect, together – perhaps to the amazement of the small ward.

I have many blessings in my life – and to have moments truly to appreciate what I have and may lose feels like being paraded by all the colours of Autumn.

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