My mother, daughter, and I stand next to one another in front of a sunny window on a January day. The trees outside are bare on this crisp and clear afternoon. “The trees will be so pretty in the spring,” I say, instantly regretting my words.
I’m learning to appreciate the elegance of the moment in which I find myself. I think of a saying I’ve always loved, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift…that’s why they call it the present.”
Like rings marking the age of a tree, the figures in the hazy reflection represent three distinct generations. Each woman feels a certain amount of relief and discomfort about the season she is in. They all fight the urge to get stuck reminiscing the past or dreaming of the future.
My mother is the most deeply rooted of us. She is a towhead little girl, a beautiful bride, a young mother, a devoted grandmother, and a grieving widow. She says she didn’t expect to live so long and doesn’t want to be a burden. How I wish she understood she’s no more a burden than a stately tree providing solace, shade, beauty, and grace.
I’m part of the sandwich generation, those of us firmly in the middle of adult children we still worry about and parents who need our care. I’m retired now, leaving me to find identity within my relationships. I am a little tired and no longer young, but I am still growing.
At thirty-one, my daughter is in full bloom. She faces the daily excitement and anxiety of a demanding profession in a bustling city. She is a newlywed and first-time homeowner still unsure if she will choose to become a mother herself. If not unaware, she is at least indifferent to her skin so soft and supple, her body so long and lithe, her mind so sharp and strong.
The three of us stand silent, deep in our individual and collective thoughts. The significance of our coming together for just a moment to look out the window at the trees, mysteriously dormant yet pulsing with life, is palpable.
The trees stand strong, bold, and elegant against the bright blue sky. They hold both the memory and the promise of green leaves and fresh blossoms, but on this cold winter day they are living fully in the season of now. §
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”