Think autumn flowers and what comes to mind? Chrysanthemums, especially the pompom mums we all wore on football nights at school. From plain flat blooms to big puffballs and in a wide range of colors from reds, and russets, to yellows, greens, whites, purples and lilacs, they are also easily colored by adding dye to their water, meaning you can have them in any color. They brighten our gardens and often remind me of the Muppets. You can't help but smile when you see them.
They’ve been used historically as an herbal insecticide, a wine, a sweet tea, and as fall decorations. More recently, studies have shown mums to seriously reduce air pollution. But they are also considered death or funeral flowers in many parts of the world. Autumn is sort of the natural cycle of life. Just as so many annual plants have succumbed to a frosty death, and the leaves fallen from the trees, that cycle of death is repeated with humans.
Is it something left over from when we first walked the Earth? Was it more practical to die before the winter cold struck and froze the ground to the point when burial was impossible? I’ve asked a few doctors about it. They get that deer-in-the-headlamps stare as they ponder the question. Most have responded with an affirmative about death striking the elderly more frequently in September, October, and November. Then others give that standard answer that there is no such thing, and it’s an old wives' tale.
I do know that I've lost grandparents, parents, my husband's parents, and several other elderly members of the family in the autumn months. I've also seen plenty of friends lose their parents and family members in the fall months. Accidents and illness can claim anyone at any time. But today, we seem to be forced to attach a reason for death. Old age is not considered a cause of death. I beg to differ on that.
Of course, what is old age?
I was looking over the medical records of my deceased husband. In his initial visit to the ER, he was described as a frail, elderly man. What? My daughter, who was a first responder as a paramedic for many years and later as an RN in the Emergency Department of a large hospital, just rolled her eyes. "Mom, thirty-five and up is middle aged."
Huh? Okay, I get it. (But I still haven't figured out frail, as opposed to what, obese? He had a washboard stomach!)
"Mom, that hospital clerk is nineteen, she saw some gray hair and said 'elderly'." Okay, so age is relative. To a young woman, my husband was an old man.
Elderly, according to our local emergency departments, is considered age fifty and up. Yikes! At least let us reach the age of retirement first! And the closer I get to that retirement date, the older elderly becomes. Can we say prime? I like that. I'm in the prime of my life.
And I understand that 150 years ago 22 was considered middle aged. Women were married in a dress and often buried in that same dress a few years later when they died in childbirth. So times have changed and medicine has changed. We live longer. But we still reach a point where the body gives up and parts wear out faster than modern medicine can keep up.
Among my family and friends, I've seen the Grim Reaper claim quite a few people. And other than those who were lost to mishaps or struck by cancer, etc., the vast majority I would consider elderly deaths. These are people who have reached the end of their time on Earth. And in almost every case, those deaths have occurred in the autumn months.
And what flower blooms in autumn? Chrysanthemums. So it's quite natural to use what nature has made available for funerals to honor the dead.
This past weekend has been difficult for the Authors of Main Street, as we've kept vigil. The Grim Reaper came and snatched one of our beloved members who was in the prime of her life.
For many, an author is merely the name on a book. Pepper Phillips was a pen name. In real life, she was a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She also was a nursing home administrator, a gardener, a top-notch cook, a spreadsheet queen, a breast cancer survivor, and most of all a dear friend. She didn't just write about the Boggy Bayou, she lived there. Her husband and her boys went alligator hunting. It was like a rite of passage into manhood to do that. She had the "camp" property and her regular house. From her pictures, you couldn't tell one from the other. If there was space for a flower, she planted it.
Her books always warmed the heart and often made us giggle. Her wonderful sense of humor came though in almost everything she wrote. She was the epitome of a Main Street author and a big sis to all of us within that group.
She's probably best known for her book The Devil has Dimples. http://amzn.com/B005RQ26IQ A reader posted the following quotes from that book on GoodReads.
“Sometimes that’s all you get out of life. Great shoes.”
“I’ve been stabbed lately with life.”
“All that mattered in life, that someone loved you even though you had faults.”
“She laughed and said how silly we were to not accept life for what it was, difficult.”
“An old expression–‘she looks like she was weaned on a pickle’–came to my mind.”
“Never scorn a woman. They get violent.”
“So, there is a God protecting the innocent. Too bad, he didn’t act sooner.”
Pepper had a sense of humor but she also seemed to understand life, the highs, the lows, and the importance of family and friends. Her writing reflected her good sense and made her a best selling author on Amazon.
Her last book can be found here in the Authors of Main Street's Christmas on Main Street - Book 2. http://amzn.com/B016LF0IOA It's another heartwarming story as only Pepper Phillips could write.
The cycle of life is a natural one. It is those of us who are left behind who grieve. It is also a beautiful time of year. The colors of fall call to my heart. Mums are part of that wonderful autumn palette. They almost glow in the sunshine, yet they have color that seems to have weathered a long season. Unlike the spring's vibrant yellow of the jonquils or the tulips' fire-engine red, mums tend to have a touch of gold in the yellow and a bit of plum in the red. They appear to be warmer and softer than their spring cousins. Pepper was like that, all warm and soft with a heart of gold.
Christmas on Main Street - Book 2 Kindle Edition
by Susan R. Hughes, Carol DeVaney, Pepper Phillips, Kristy Tate, & E. Ayers
Welcome to Main Street. It's not a place. It's an attitude. It's not Key West or San Diego or Halifax or Richmond or West Haven - it's any town. It can be anyplace that you can imagine. The authors of Main Street create high-quality romances that warm your heart.
This year we are pleased to bring you five brand-new holiday romance novellas in a boxed set.
Mistletoe & Wine by Susan R. Hughes, USA Today bestselling author:
For Colleen Dixon, Christmas of 1986 seems sure to be miserable. Having just lost her job, her lover and her apartment, she figures a trip across the country to spend the holidays at her grandmother’s house might be just what she needs. Meeting Dr. Liam Clancy during her visit brings a whole new shine to her Christmas spirit. Recently divorced, Liam never intended to fall for a woman again so soon, especially one who lives so far away. Can a holiday fling survive as a long-distance romance, or will the New Year bring the promise of something more?
Christmas at Apple Lake by Carol DeVaney, National bestselling author:
If you’re lucky in love, that second chance will come…
Sometimes love goes wrong, and the cost often defeats even the strongest of women. If you overcome the sorrow of loss and have the courage and determination to believe, love will find you again.
A Magical Christmas by Pepper Phillips, National bestselling author:
During a weekend in Las Vegas, S. R. Lejeune decides to skip the trouble of courtship and propose marriage to the beautiful blonde sitting next to him.
His arguments for a quick marriage are so clear and concise that Jazz Morgan decides to take him up on his offer – especially after their mind-blowing kiss.
But can shared aspirations and a mutual attraction be enough to build a marriage? Maybe not, when S. R. comes to believe the worst of his new bride.
Can Jazz capture the heart of the man she loves? Or should she?
Sometimes it takes more than time for a marriage of convenience to grow into a forever love.
The Little White Christmas Lie by Kristy Tate, National bestselling author:
Carson Trent doesn't know that the beautiful Millie Cruise who literally falls into his lap is really Camille Harper, bestselling romance writer.
Millie doesn't know that she is headed for Carson's grandmother's inn in a quaint New England town.
Neither Carson nor Millie know that their lives are about to spin out of control thanks to a patch of black ice, a cow, and a little white Christmas lie.
Christmas at Mariner’s Cove by E. Ayers, National bestselling author:
It was just a little fib. Celine Colburn wasn't expecting Prince Charming because that was the stuff of fairy tales. But when she met Frank Cresson, she found herself instantly drawn to him. Just as they were getting to know each other, she becomes a witness to a horrendous motorcycle accident that left him unconscious. Except, a lie has a way of growing.