For Everything, a Season

My eye was initially caught by the reflection of the trees on the surface of the near-still water along the opposite shore. But when I looked through the view finder to compose the scene, it was the yellow leaves that drew my attention. Autumn had arrived.


Early Autumn on Lake Padden, Bellingham, WA


In the fifties, Pete Seeger wrote a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (Also known as “To Everything There Is a Season”) It became hit during the 60’s, especially the version covered by The Byrds in 1965. It begins with:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

More than a few Autumns have colored my path since I began my sojourn on this Earth nearly sixty-five years.


When I was in my early twenties, I met and fell in love with the woman who is to this day the love of my life, my soul mate, my life-partner; she completes me. I don’t know what she saw in me, but she married me anyway and changed my life. Nearly forty years later, love is still in season. It has changed over the years of course: deepened, broadened, matured. Not without pain and struggles, but always with hope, faith and love.

We have traveled to interesting places together, done interesting things together, met interesting people together, ministered to God’s people together. Always together, never alone. How fortunate I am to have been found by this amazing woman.


In due time, Joshua was born, and two year later, Rebecca. These two remarkable people were put into our care; to protect, to raise, to teach, to challenge, to encourage, to laugh and cry with, eventually to let go of, most of all to love. Rebecca has become a fine woman, with a sharp and disciplined mind, and with a sensitive, caring heart. She went on to earn a PhD in marine biology, and married a Canadian (a fine young man I am proud to have as a son-in-law). Joshua’s life took a different path.


Joshua was our thinker; easily the smartest one in our family, and one of the most intelligent people I have been privileged to meet (I have met some pretty bright people). He was also a person of deep tenderness and compassion. Everyone loved Josh because he loved everyone. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington and began working on a PhD in theoretical mathematics as the University of California at Davis. A few months into his studies, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Thus began a five year journey together, the four of us. Surgery, physical therapy, radiation, chemo, gamma knife. In the end, the brain tumor won, as it nearly always does.


Two years ago, a grandson entered our lives. Eli Joshua. We moved to Bellingham to be closer to Vancouver BC, where they live. I am immensely proud of Rebecca for the woman she has become. I am glad she found and married a good man who I enjoy a good relationship with. But I have to admit that I make the trek to Vancouver mostly to get my hands on that grandchild. There is a saying that grandchildren trump everything.” It’s true.


In January of this year, I was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD), a form of dementia. In my case, it is behavioral variant FTD, which means its early manifestations are in the areas of decision making, judgment, inhibition, and control of bodily functions, unlike Alzheimer’s Disease for which memory loss is that major early symptom.

I am told that the median survival rate for cases like mine is five years. I could live longer; I might die sooner. Nobody knows. In any case, I am coming to terms with the fact that I will soon have to say goodbye to everyone and everything I have ever known. This is true for all of us, of course, but for the most part we pretend it’s not. For me, the option of denial has been torn away. That is not a bad thing.

Trueda and I plan to make the best use we can of whatever time we have left together. We try to have one or two “adventures” each week. A walk in a park we haven’t visited before counts. As does dinner at an ethnic restaurant we haven’t tried before. As was our first visit to a store that sells various forms of cannabis (legal in Washington State). We’re learning to simply be together through each passing day. I am grateful that Trueda will be there to take care of me when I can no longer take care of myself. I am grateful that she will be there to say goodbye.


Pete Seeger’s song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is taken almost verbatim from the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: 

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: 

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

I have been privileged to have lived through all the Preacher’s seasons. Now summer is giving way to Autumn once again. I do not have many Autumns left. But I have few complaints. I have lived a rich and full life; I was blessed with two unbelievably beautiful children; I found the love my life, who has walked though all of the seasons with me and who will walk with me to the end. My heart is full of gratitude for the life I have been given.

As alway, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Please feel free to comment as you see fit.

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1 Response to For Everything, a Season

  1. Kelly West says:

    Beautiful! We were blessed to spend a short season with ya’ll.


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