Autumn Basil

Caregiving is problem-solving. That’s not all it is, of course, but threading through the love and patience and vigilance, through anticipating needs and interpreting body language and calming fears and answering questions—threading like a thick red cord through the tapestry of every day, is the caregiver’s need to be a problem solver.

We solve one and another pops up.

If only the sweet moments could be so plentiful. But they appear without warning and we know they won’t last; Alzheimer’s won’t let them. So we have to be watchful. Ready to see them and savor them and remember them.


Summer is finally past. The breeze is stronger, dryer, cooler. Autumn in Texas is subtle, and usually fleeting. But even the air inside the house reflects the change. Maybe that’s why Mom’s been sleeping a little later these days.

I took an extra hour at home this morning. As the daughter of a cleaning-dusting-polishing mother and a raking-cultivating-gardening father, I should have been torn between the undone chores inside and the ragged lawn outside. But it was no contest. Lured by the sun and wind playing across the piles of leaves swirling on my patio, I grabbed my jacket and the keys to the garden shed and, with scarcely a glance at the nine panes of dirty glass it thrust in my face, exited the back door.

I’m free.

The multicolored Texas stone of the patio is invisible beneath a layer of multicolored Texas leaves—dark brown, medium brown, light brown, golden brown, with a few orange and a couple of red thrown in for accent. The thin metal strips of the rake scratch across the rock and overhead a squirrel barks from a tree still raining leaves. Warm fingers of sunshine massage my back and I inhale a breeze scented with green, spring green.

Green? Spring green? No, couldn’t be. But yes. Spring green. Finally it registers – basil. The air is full of the scent of basil.

I harvested leaves from my potted basil all summer. A month ago, my husband carried the plant inside, to a spot in the garage where it can wait out the winter in relative warmth. But at my feet, in the cracks of the patio, are dozens of tiny basil plants, barely rising above the surface of the rocks. Seeing them, I begin to understand. Seeds fallen in the summer heat, sleeping under a blanket of autumn leaves, have been awakened by early fall rains. Now, though their season is over, everything inside them whispers Grow, grow, grow. So they do what they were made to do. They grow. Never mind that there’s little time for the plants to get tall and strong.  Never mind that cold will come and growing will become dying.  For now, for this day, this moment, the plants will grow.

I rake around them gently, smiling at the Lord’s loving message to me. Leaves will continue to fall; problems will appear every day. I’ll have to rake and solve, rake and solve. But if I look, I’ll find joy amid trouble. The sweet moments will come and though they may pass quickly, their memory will linger, like the scent of basil.

Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to serve. Open my eyes to the beauty in the work and the joy in the caring. Keep me watchful for the miracles of Your love.

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines…Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”    (Habakkuk 3:17,18  NKJV)

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About atimeformiracles

I'm a writer. And a speaker. And an advocate for victims of Alzheimer's. I write about a lot of things, but right now Alzheimer's has taken center stage. You'll see some of my work on my blog If you're a caregiver, this blog is for you, from someone who has been in your shoes. I offer help in the form of tips and strategies gained through my personal experience. I offer encouragement in the form of witness: You are never alone. The God of all hope is always with you, and where He is, miracles abound. I speak to groups on the same subject, sharing helps and challenging caregivers to expect joy on the path through Alzheimer's. It's a rough road, but it leads through terrain of intense beauty. I can point out some of the miraculous sights along the way. In the U.S., a new diagnosis of Alzheimer's is made every 69 seconds. Please join me in praying for those suffering from the disease and for those who care for them.

2 thoughts on “Autumn Basil

  1. Kathleen what an encourager you are. Wish I’d had your blog to give me hope and help when our family wrestled with the issues of Mom’s Alzheimers. I’m afraid I didn’t look for those moments like I should have. I’ve posted this on my website and pray many, many will take a moment to read if they are dealing with a loved one with Alzheimers. If not, I’m sure they know someone who is and pray they will forward this with a prayer for the caregiver they know and the family.


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