“Mama, can I splash in the puddles?”
“Only if you have your rain boots on!”
It’s finally here and all the signs are pointing to its long-awaited arrival: rain boots, inaugural trips to the playground, and buds on our magnolia tree. But for the first time, I am keenly aware of how the warming weather is accompanied by warming attitudes. It’s funny how a little sunshine (without wind chill) can change the moods of those around you. The return of spring is like the return of hope. So…here is my argument: I propose that we have the season of spring 365 days of the year.
Case #1. The last few months of winter have been particularly trying for my family due to the unfortunate incident with my ankle. Apparently, the general mood in our house is largely dependent on my mood. A happy mama equals a happy home. My mood is directly related to the amount of physical activity I am engaged in. So being sidelined in the dead of winter, with 4 children who are normally accustomed to two active parents, was a major test of my mental stamina. But the entrance of spring, and all its possibilities for change and renewal, has done wonders for my ankle. Not to sound overly dramatic but I feel like a phoenix rising from the ashes – although with a slight limp. I’ve started a yoga class to re-align my mind (and my back), and the kids are excited that we are starting to go on some short walks. Funny how spring works.
Case #2. As I watch the kids dust off their sidewalk chalk and play hopscotch outside, I see how they feel alive again. I watch how #2 tries to explain the rules of hopscotch, only to have #3 and #4 collect as many rocks as they can and then throw simultaneously onto the hopscotch board. If this were to happen indoors during the winter, where #3 and #4 totally disregard the rules of a game, #2 would become exasperated and some sort of meltdown would follow. I don’t know if it was the sun giving her sisters a warmer glow, or just the smell of freshness in the air that softened her outlook, but instead of getting impatient with her sisters, #2 simply smiled and started throwing rocks at the hopscotch board too. Spring has worked its magic yet again.
Case #3. My grandfather, Lolo Harv, hasn’t been quite himself the last month or so which has been worrisome to all of us. The best way to describe it would be as if to say #3 had lost her sparkle and is now seeing gremlins. The bright side is that he knows that something is off. He is conscious that his appetite has waned and that he just simply isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed anymore. I understand that he is 90 and with aging, he is expected to feel its effects. What worries me most is his lack of purpose that he feels – what I assume we all will feel once we have reached a certain age where our perceived sole purpose in life is just to simply exist. What happens when we just go through the motions of living and not truly live? This is what has saddened me as I watch my grandfather slowly lose a little bit of his luster. Of course, the good ex-Catholic I am, I immediately start inflicting self-flagellation with my thoughts and feelings of guilt. Have I done enough? Could I have visited more during the week? How do I let him know that his purpose is not to just merely exist but to provide clarity, wisdom, and a good laugh using his unparalleled wit and sense of humour? Upon further investigation, I came to the conclusion that more could be done, but I definitely needed reinforcements. The lunch with Lolo was already scheduled for Sunday with the usual suspects already confirming their attendance – aunts, uncles, a few cousins, my parents, my brothers, and of course,”Team Lopez.” I extended the invitation to the rest of my cousins who haven’t been abreast of the situation with my grandfather and hoped they would answer the call. I cannot tell you how proud and how touched I was to see most of them show up at the restaurant. We all spent the rest of the afternoon with Lolo at my mom’s house. Towards the evening, I asked Lolo if there were any gremlin sightings that day. He replied, “None. This was a good day. I even had something to eat.” For the first time in awhile, I saw a faint glimmer in his eyes (although I am unsure if the sparkle had in fact returned or if it was a tear forming). Either way, I began to hope again. I credit my family for making a difference just by being there and giving an old man a reprieve from enduring visions of mythical creatures. Spring, and the positive actions it inspires, strikes again.
Obviously, I am aware of the laws of nature and know that the physical manifestation of spring cannot exist in perpetuity in our city. Part of the reality of living in a Canadian climate that I have come to accept is the winter experience and all the “joy” it can bring. So as corny as this may sound, I will try to carry forward the mental disposition that spring brings all year round: the hope, the new beginnings, the warmth. The cycle of the winter doldrums being shed only when spring rears its lovely head ends here. Normally, just before the arrival of spring, my grandfather gazes out the window, searching for any sign that winter is almost over. He repeats the story of experiencing his first winter after immigrating from the Philippines, “After a long winter, the song of the robin red-breast became the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.” I will hold on to that. With every hardship that seems unrelenting and unbearable, I will hold on to the hope that I will undoubtedly hear the most beautiful sound of that robin red-breast, signaling that the worst is over.
(Or…All this warm and fuzziness is due to the fact that I can walk again and that winter is finally over and I am just feeling uncharacteristically optimistic and euphoric. We’ll see how this “eternal spring attitude” fares next winter as I need to get 4 kids ready and fed at the crack of dawn or if I can really stop cursing the birds that insist on waking me up prematurely and appreciate them as symbols of spring… )