the ghosts of october


we drive from orchard to orchard, yellow leaves falling and we end up in a nursing home, cider and donuts in hand.

my grandfather was born in october and this year he turned ninety.

his wife died twenty nine years ago in another october, three days after his birthday.

he’s outlived nora for almost thirty years now.

i bet he never saw that one coming in the early octobers of their life together, twin babies in their arms, oldest son so strong and tall.

there is nothing like a dying leaf or a dying man, for that matter.

did you know that when leaves change into their glory color that they are just showing what was there all along?

the infusion of green, of youth, of vitality – it is always mixed up with the yellows and the oranges of who we really are underneath.





every tear

a world with no october color is a robbed place.  a place where a thief has come in and played a cruel trick indeed.

joshua takes his hand and pulls my grandfather up to sitting.

i give him a back scratch.  we sit close.  i kiss his face and i laugh in his ear.

we bring cider and donuts and i swear i am jealous to know what it tastes like when he drinks it down.  i wonder at cider’s skill to taste sweet in the midst of suffering and after ninety years.


we try to bring heaven to earth through the back door.

eliminate suffering.  

eternal life.

justice to the unjust.

we want heaven now.  but it seems heaven isn’t meant for earth.

just like we’re not.  


a woman comes in to give my grandfather his pills.

he used to give me twenty bucks here and there when i was growing up.  i thought i was a rich as midas or that he was, but he says it with our kids sprawled around his room in a nursing home in plymouth, michigan.

“you guys are alright.”

and it is better than twenty dollars.

it’s more akin to the bluest sky, just like his eyes still clear and sharp, and the reddest leaf  of october.

if we wipe every tear away ourselves, what exactly is heaven for?


i don’t know why we suffer.

but i do know that it points to another kind of place.  a place where we don’t have to manufacture or kill or die or cry.

a place where the sunflowers stay upright, where our hopes and dreams and prayers are met, answered and exceeded.

we all know this place could be, but we can’t quite make it fit here.

so a working man can’t make it no way – heaven is the coolest and the cruelest of them all.

and i’ll drive to the orchards and watch my children meet their great grandfather and i’ll cry real tears full of real pain and i’ll wait for the one who can wipe them away.

6 replies on “ the ghosts of october ”
  1. Dear Zena,
    Heartwarming, tearful, and comforting.
    You give me hope and peace.
    Love and hugs, Cioci Rozy

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