Winter can be a long, dreary time…especially for a young boy. And winter around the Great Lakes Region has a tendency to last longer than some other areas. That is the region that my dad and his brother and sisters grew up in. Now, while winter is an ok time of year for a kid, it can limit some of the activities that young boys are most interested in.

When a boy is three or so, and they have a tricycle, their whole world is about being mobile, and the deep snow that you get in the area of the Great Lakes…well, lets just say that a tricycle doesn’t go too well. My Uncle Bill was always an adventurous boy. I remember him and my dad talking about their antics, from the time they were little until they left home. Let’s just say that sitting still was not a phrase that spent much time in their vocabulary, and since Uncle Bill was two years older than my dad, my guess is that at least in the early days, he took the lead on what the day would hold for them.

When he was three, however, Uncle Bill was pretty much on his own for fun, and the winter time put him stuck with nothing to do, and anyone who has had a child stuck at the house, with nothing to do, knows how bored they can get. So, after fussing repeatedly at his mom, begging to go outside, I can imagine that she finally gave in and he hauled his tricycle outside hoping to be able to ride, only to find that sitting on it was going to be as far as he would go. Knowing my Uncle Bill, I’m sure, and if you look at the picture, you can see that this was depressing to him. What comes to my mind is that he is thinking…”when will Spring get here.”

Sometimes, you don’t really know the story behind a picture, but if you look closely you can picture the scene in your head, or see something in their eyes that tells the story. And while I don’t remember my grandmother, who died when I was two, I can imagine that she must have seen something in this scene that prompted her to take this picture. My guess is that she saw just about the same thing I did…a boy viewing the snow is disgust, because he knew that there was no way his little tricycle could move through it, so he sat there, thinking of the coming spring, and wishing it would hurry up.

Dad and MomHaving been a caregiver since October of 2005, I find myself coming face to face more and more often with the Winter of life. It is the time in someones life, when they have far fewer days in front of them that they have behind them, and in many ways, I find that sad…especially when it is my parents or in-laws that I am talking about. I understand…all too well…that life on this earth is finite, and that we will all leave here one day, but still, it is hard to face that day as it applies to my parents, in-laws, grandparents and other loved ones in my life. I guess I just don’t like change very much and especially when it means having a loved one get old and leave this life.

Change is, unfortunately, inevitable, and their is nothing we can do to stop it, or slow it down even. Like the seasons, life has a cycle that cannot be changed. Like Spring, bringing newness to the Earth, birth is also a new beginning, and young life. Summer is the youth Dad and Momand young adulthood, Fall is middle age, and finally, we arrive at Winter, bring late life and finally death. I have never liked Winter in any form…be it weather or life cycle. It is a depressing time to me that always feels sad.

The only consolation is that we have the promise of eternal life in Heaven, and I know that I will see my dad again. It was never about a lack of belief that I will see him again…it is more about the wait for Spring…eternal life, that seems so long. When we are the ones left behind, the wait seems to take forever. I’m not in a hurry to leave this Earth, I just wish that the getting to Heaven could be sooner. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but that is exactly how I feel about the Winter of life.

There comes a point in every Winter, when I begin to feel the promise of the coming Spring. Now, you might say, “Well sure, we all do.” For me, however, it is for a different reason than most that I long for Spring. I have SAD, which is Seasonal Affective Disorder, and while this is not a fatal or even really a debilitating disorder, its effects on me are very real. During the Winter months as the days get shorter, the fact that we get up when it is dark and get off work when it is dark, makes me feel very tired. Then, one day in January, I step outside the door after work, and it just occurs to me that I’m not leaving work in the dark, or even almost dark. It is like a weight is lifted off of me.

I have a fairly mild form of SAD. Some people can hardly function during the darker months. For me it is just a matter of feeling tired and well, dragged out, but no matter how badly a person is affected, it makes the winter dark months difficult to say the very least. Then add to it the Wyoming Winter wind and cold, and I start feeling antsy, on top of feeling fatigued.

There are some things that have helped people who suffer from SAD. Light therapy is a good solution. The best lighting is full spectrim light bulbs, because it mimicks actual sunlight. A lot of people who live in Alaska can have a severe form of SAD, and light therapy was tested on those people with good results. I have tried light therapy and it has helped, but it is difficult to spend enough time in proper lighting when you work. So I wait and look forward to the day in January that brings with it the promise of the coming Spring. Knowing that soon I will feel better again.

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