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Picking up Acorns.


Ask me, “Why I’m picking up acorns?" I dare you.
I’ve always had them, dropping with a ping on my back deck outside my bedroom door to be heard through the night.
I love Fall. Because we don’t live where maples or beech display such beautiful fall colors, I have enjoyed the acorns falling instead.
This year the acorns are a bit on the skinny side—forecasting a slim year for coming rains.
Last year they couldn’t have been bigger. Their little coats bursting their seams, hardly holding their nutrients for that seed to grow. And the rains did come.
Even with their slimness this year, their hats barely cover the tops of nut. Were they never meant to stay on? 
They just hold them onto the tree until it was time for them to go.
Is that what mothers are for?
To hold their little packet of seeds onto the tree until it is time for them go?

“Go” the word brings tears to my eyes.
I thought I was doing good when we packed our Pod. 
I say, “the Pod holds all our belongings,” but it doesn’t. So much had to be given away or discarded.
Even at the end, when things were tight and nothing else was going to fit, I gave away my refinished dresser and stuffed my clothes in a bag that fit in a crevice in the Pod.
All our stuff that we could include in the Pod has gone on ahead of us. 
I had planned so everything would last until the very last day of escrow—had just enough of toilet paper, napkins, paper bowls, soap, even all my “essential sauces” for cooking. 

When I turned to see all the “essential” things that were kept back, things like pots and pans, (but only what we needed), plants that weren’t allowed in the Pod, chairs that didn't fit, Curtains—so we wouldn’t live in a fish-bowl for the neighbors to see, even without our dining table to eat our meals, Only enough clothes for wear every day and the wedding clothes that we would later need and must be able to find. 
There seemed like a lot left.

I must separate what the boys would need for their home, with what we must finally take in our two vehicles. 
It still looks like too much.

Could we do a test run to see what won’t fit? 
Of course, no body hears me. So I go through my things again. 

My plants don’t need to come.
I hesitate over the lilac starts. They do mean so much. 
That lilac tree that bloomed three times this spring looks dead now. It didn’t do well when we made a trip this summer. 
I trim out the dead branches and see new starts, and a flower!
Blooming in the summer. Is it my farewell?
One son volunteers to take my plants. They will make his house more cheery.
He will take good care of them. It's easier to let them go. 

I note another landscaping plant that needs extra water. I will have to remember to water that one.
I sigh.
My husband reminds me the new owner may not care to keep the plants alive.
All my watering may be for nothing.
I must remember this is not my house.
I am just a caretaker until I hand over the keys to the new owner.
I can’t resist thinking, “I hope something lives after all my work.”

Our two cats must be given a home. The trip won’t do them well.
One cat, very wild but endearing, has never intruded, only nudged gently for her food when I went to the garage.
The other cat—very demanding, must come in and out of the house at night, waking me if she thought she needed more fresh food. 
After securing the second cat in a box, where she lay down and got comfortable, we attempted boxing the wild one.  
She ripped open a taped box with her claws. After catching her three times, we caged her in the steel dog box. 
Though the trip up the mountain was short, she cried the entire time, reaffirming to me I had made the right decision not to bring her the thousand miles to our new home. 
But how do you numb the thoughts of “Bad, bad cat owner”? while the cat cries on.

But escrow didn’t close as planned. 

Each week has been an experiment on “how can I make dinner without this?”
I bought instant potatoes (thought my son was going hunting). When I came to the last of the box and it wasn’t enough for dinner, I added instant rice.
It gave a rather “cement-mortar” texture that the boys called “unique” and “maybe like grits.” But thanked me and ate it. 

And the toilet paper! I didn’t buy what I normally get. Who needs 36 rolls for one more week?
But how was I to know that all toilet paper is not made equal?
This brand was like sand paper, especially on my nose.

The days have lengthened, not only because of the season, but because there is nothing for me to do.
Escrow hasn’t closed. Each week becomes another wait and see.
The realtor labeled our escrow #10 in craziest of his 1000’s he’s sold.
Crazy or not, we wait.
We are into week four of the extended escrow.
At least we stay in our own house. The buyers have nowhere to go.

Because of the wait, I have time to pick up acorns.
I go back to my acorn picking.

They fall from the tree olive green, but as the sun kisses them with its fall heat, they turn an earthy brown. I like both colors, but know when I toast them to remove any bugs, they will all be brown or maybe olive green instead of wasabi green.
Does the color change represent growth or decay?
I’m not sure I want to know.
How does the tree live on as if nothing has changed?

Their caps crunch beneath my feet.
They lay empty, not able to hold the acorn anymore.
But they have done what they were made to do—hold that acorn to the tree until it was time for them to leave.
They are just an empty hole now, like what I feel in my heart for my acorns that are soon leaving.

The oak tree doesn’t seem to miss all these acorns falling from its tree. How does it do it?
I think about my “Good-byes” and can’t.
My German heritage lends for a quick, “Good-bye” so I can turn my head before they see my tears.
Emotions too intense for words leave words unsaid.
Can they feel all them in my hug?

I do not say good-bye to my stuff, although that was hard.
But it is my life-blood that I leave.
Two boys we leave behind. One to finish a school semester then join us in Oklahoma.
Another to start his dream of building a trucking company, but first to get experience.
They both regularly bring me chocolates and flowers.
How did they become so good to me? 

It is one thing to have your child leave for school.
It is another to leave your child.
I was always amazed how mothers were able to drop their children off in kindergarten, let alone watch them go to college.
This—
IS HARD.

I also must leave another son with his growing family.
I was just getting to know our daughter-in-law. 
I feel myself distancing from them, hoping it won't be so hard at the end.
And their little one, who grows bigger every week we see her—
She smiles when she sees me. How do you keep ahold of that?
Will she remember me after we move?
I squeeze an acorn, wishing its imprint could mold her smile into my hand.
I drop the acorn in the bucket.
I know.
It can’t.

How do you prepare yourself for leaving?

As the acorns drop around me, I cannot bare to hear another one drop.
There are too many leaving the tree!
I want to pick them all up and glue them back on!
Defy gravity. Hold on. For. Just. Another. Moment.
But they refuse to listen.

Another son, our fourth born, leaves the nest, though his independence has been felt so many times before. This time my role as mother must change.
He exchanged me as his First Lady with his wife-to-be, as he should. He marries in October. 
I already feel the loss.

I’m just throwing acorns into my bucket now, heedless of bugs and dirt.
By collecting them, can I keep them attached?

How do the acorns know when to drop off the tree?
Surely the tree couldn’t let them all go at once?
I stifle a sob and slow my picking.

I see through my teary haze a sunflower I’ve left.
Most of them I’ve chopped down early, because I must keep the place ready for final inspection. 
Dead-heading all my wild flowers seems such a waste—where will the seeds come next year if I pick off the dead, but immature seed head? 
But this sunflower, I’ve left, ugly or not.
Little finches perch upside down, pecking at the slim seeds that aren’t quite ready.
I smile.
Maybe some seeds will stay behind.
And some acrons. 

My husband would tell me that is unnatural—for the boys to leave.
The tree must make room for spring growth.
And the acorn has what it needs to make new growth.
Do my boys?
We want them to be men.
And they are.
But must it happen so fast and all at once?

I will have two sons left to help me unpack on the other side of this move.
For that, I must be grateful.

I scatter my bucket of acorns over a pan to bake on a low setting.
They will all turn brown, but will not rot or be eaten.
This year I will be careful to do it long enough.
They must last.
I may not be able to bring my dresser or my plants, but I will make room for my jar of acorns.
They represent a lot more than Fall to me. 


How do you deal with loss and goodbyes?
 

We can’t bring ourselves to say “Good Bye “

This made we weep, and weep and weep and I feel your pain and loss. I too have felt this deep sadness. Sometimes I can't breath for the sadness of missing them all so much. How did this happen so fast? Having a new mission now that I have an empty nest, has really helped me fill the lonely hours and days. One must find meaningful work, wherever God has called you. There are so many needs out there, so many hurting people, so many lonely people. One doesn't have to look far. Joy and fulfillment comes from giving and sacrificing for others. Each day is a new opportunity. Keep writing Sonya. You are a great blessing to me and so many others!

That is one of the saddest things I've ever read, I feel it so much along with you! Our youngest marries in two days and the empty nest is already hitting hard, but this time with a double whammy. I enjoy being "alone," but how much alone can I do? I am so blessed, have so much to be thankful for, but there's still that hole. Thank you for sharing, Sonya, I've just had a good cry and am feeling better.

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I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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