One Day

By Melissa Face

I am sitting on my sofa, watching my maple tree release the last of its leaves to the ground. I watch them with awe and wonder and a new feeling of gratitude that has developed in me over the past few years. It is true that the appreciation of life’s best gifts comes with time. For me, it took more than three decades to truly recognize the beauty that surrounds me every day.

When I was in my twenties, my mom asked me if I would like to accompany her and my grandmother, Mammie, on a road trip.

“We’re going to Harrisonburg,” she said. “Mammie and I like to see the leaves each year in their prime, before they all fall off.”

I wasn’t too tempted by her offer. “I really don’t care about a trip to see leaves,” I said. “That’s not too high on my list.”

My mother and grandmother, unfazed by my disinterest, enjoyed their getaway and filled me in on the highlights once they returned: apple picking, leisurely lunching, bookstore shopping and of course, leaf admiring.

“It was just so gorgeous, Melissa,” Mammie told me. “I get so overwhelmed by the beauty. I look at them and just cry. I can’t help it.”

She teared up a bit trying to explain it to me. But I didn’t get it. Naively and discreetly, I rolled my eyes at her emotional response.

“You’ll understand one day,” she assured me.

My “one day” has finally arrived. I am approaching forty years old. My hair is graying, my skin is sagging, and my waistline is growing. All signs point toward old age. And to the appreciation of the passage of time that comes only with life experience.

So, here I sit. This elusive “one day” has found me, and I am watching the leaves drop from my tree, thinking about how precious life is. The changing of seasons is a subtle tap on the shoulder, a gentle reminder that we have passed another mile marker on the road trip of life. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it, the season or the reminder.

I could complain about the annoyances of growing older, but my time is more productively spent being grateful that I have the opportunity to become old. I have the privilege of plucking gray hairs in the morning because I have lived long enough to earn them. I am so fortunate.

I don’t know exactly what my grandmother thinks about when she sees the leaves changing colors in the fall. I don’t know for certain, but I would imagine that her thoughts are not too different from mine today.

Today the same thoughts race through my mind that I ponder at all annual events including: the first day of school, birthday parties, the day we put up our Christmas tree, the day we take it down and today, the day that the very last leaf falls from my tree and lands in my front yard. I wonder what life will be like one year from now, and I hope that I will be here to find out. It is likely that I still have many years ahead of me, but I know that very little in life is absolutely certain.

I do have this one day though.

There is so much comfort in a life well lived and in being grateful for every moment, every blossom, every glimpse of sunlight, and every single autumn leaf.

The beauty is overwhelming, enough to bring a tear to the eye. I think I will call my grandmother and tell her she was right, even though she already knows.

About this writer

  • Melissa FaceMelissa Face lives in southern Virginia with her husband, son and daughter. Her stories and essays have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. Email Melissa at

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3 Responses to “One Day”

  1. Melissa, your lovely essay reminds me of the natural beauty all around us and how each year the seasons seem more significant to me.

  2. Aziyah says:

    Hello Mrs. Face,

    I enjoyed and loved your writing. It’s inspiring and I originally found this work by analyzing your text in Ms. Southworth’s class. I’m 14 years old and can find the beauty of what you convey in your work. I believe I want to plan a day of my year to watch the leaves and the world with my family.

    Kind regards,
    Someone Thoughtful.

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