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Life’s bloom too quickly diminished

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and Christmas decorationsare appearing all over town. The kids are so excited to be out ofschool for a few days; I’m also antsy to start decorating our housefor Christmas!

My Christmas cactus is also ready to decorate for the holidays.We received it from some friends 12 years ago. It has grown from atiny, but gorgeous plant into a rather large member of the family,and is currently loaded with buds ranging in size from as small asa pinhead to one perfectly formed fabulous, hot-pink bloom. Thisplant will put on a show in our sitting room throughout theentirety of the holidays.

Looking at the pink bloom reminds me of the brevity of life. Itstarted as a small, unimpressive bud, grew and finally opened intomagnificence. It will shine for a while, and then slowly wither anddie.

Its existence, although short-lived, does matter. It providesfor the life cycle of the plant. It also creates a beautifuldisplay as it blooms, giving pleasure to everyone who views it.

This flower reminds me that life is fleeting; nothing is static.As we grow older, the more we become aware of how quickly thingscan change. This, to me, is one of the things that makes life bothso tragic, yet beautiful at the same time.

I learned everything I know about growing Christmas cactuses andgardening from my husband’s dad, Willis. This is our firstThanksgiving since we lost him last February to cancer.

We will celebrate with Cliff’s mom, my mother, and Cliff’s olderbrother and his family.

I’m looking forward to getting together as we all truly do enjoyeach other’s company. I have heard horror stories from friends ofstrained relations with their in-laws, and have been so thankfulthat my husband’s parents and I have been close to each other allthese years.

When Willis learned that he had terminal cancer, he smiledsweetly and said that he had always looked forward to making thetrip to heaven, but he’d thought he’d have a little longer to pack.He accepted his illness with the faith and grace that he displayedin all of life’s challenges, never losing sight of the gifts thatGod has given to all of us.

His attitude toward life and the subtle eventuality of deaththat we all face set such an example for us as we struggled to copewith Willis’ failing health and the inevitable end that was comingfar too soon.

We entertained Cliff’s parents at our house lastThanksgiving.

We had a wonderful visit, but there was that bittersweet feelingthat came with knowing that this was our last Thanksgiving with hisdad. His father didn’t feel good, and was really trying to havefun, but you could tell that he was suffering. He smiledanyway.

Willis was such a gift to me. He led his family through example- in kindness, ethics, love, compassion and faith.

Something that I’ve learned through Willis’ death is that everyone of us is very much like that flower. We all have a time togrow, bloom and then to die. Each person is precious and unique;and every moment is a gift.

The trick is to be thankful for the gift while you have it, asnothing is forever, without dwelling on the briefness of life. Weshould never take the blessings that we have for granted – theywon’t always be here. Whether it is a parent, a child, a spouse ora friend – they are all gifts to us on loan from God.

Be thankful on Thursday, of course. But be ever mindful of theblessings that we have all around us every day.

Lifestyles Editor Rachel Brumfield can be reached at The DAILYLEADER at 601-833-6961 ext 134, by e-mail atlifestyles@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 390602.