Finally, after a long and unpleasant winter, the first flowers of spring are up, and we are able to plant the small impatiens seedlings that will grow into large globes of blossoms by the end of August. My mother has planted these flowers around our house each spring for the past thirty years, but this year, my father will not be with us to enjoy them.
The season change causes us to weep. Why should we weep any more during the season change than on any other day ?
Unfortunately, I know the answer.
A friend, who lost both parents more than five years ago, said recently, “I’m beginning to forget what they looked liked.”
So, that’s what happens? You forget what they looked like? Insult is added to injury, and the beauty fades away with the pain? No! I prefer the pain, with its clear image of my father as he reclines in his easy chair in front of the TV, as he jokes with his grandchildren, as he sits at the dinner table, or at a restaurant, or behind the wheel of his car, or as he walks in the mall for his daily exercise.
The change of seasons takes us a little further from the days my father was with us. The budding leaves put a soft cloak over not only the branches, but over those last days of winter and my father’s life, those bitter, awkward and awful days. The greening of the vegetation forms a magic carpet, an undulating cushion upon which we sit and must stay as it transports us into a new season, whether we want to go or not.
So we weep, knowing that soon we, too, will begin to forget, whether we want to or not. Oh, we’ll have photographs– those flat, frozen, scraps that somehow serve as potent time travel devices. We’ll have the tangible proof of his existence– ourselves, his accomplishments both tangible and intangible–and we’ll have each other’s prompts that will reassure us that we have not become totally unhinged from our own lives.
Soon, the season will change again, and peak summer will splash intense colors in front of us, such that we’ll not have much room for looking at other things, and then we’ll remember other summers, other changes of seasons. We’ll smile, and recount stories of family affairs, and then we’ll know something we do not yet know now.
This summer won’t really be so much different from the others, will it?