Easter, to me, is a renewal. No matter the religious ideology you hold, Easter – or Spring, if you’d rather – represents a new birth. I look at Easter as the coming of a new day, the dawning of a season of hope. This Easter reaffirmed that feeling.
We went to visit my mom:
She started the weekend by taking most of the boys (mine, and the oldest two of my brothers’ three – the youngest being still an infant) to the bank, giving them all a little lesson about savings accounts, and handing each of them a Benjamin to deposit in their very own account. The boys really loved this (who wouldn’t?). I hope they learned something.
Then Hubby and I went shopping while Mom and Big Bro took the boys kayaking. (Apparently, no one thought to take pics. Idiots.)
Mom said that watching her men cavorting on the lake was the reason that she’d bought this house in the first place. Watching her family take happy advantage of the lake, the fields, the life that is available when you have a big open space and many small children: this is what she meant. How great is that? To see ‘what I meant’ happening in front of you? How many of us get to see that?
Lots of family time and muddy clothes and bathed boys later, we dyed eggs. Actually, that was more fun than I had anticipated. The joy of an egg dyed a certain color left me many years ago, but the boys were so happy and excited – it’s contagious. Nephew #1, especially, was so thrilled when his plans played out (“I’m going to dip this side in green, this side in blue, then wrap it with the shooting stars wrap, OK?”), I was enchanted. The boys loved their eggs. I loved the boys.
A few years ago, when Youngest Son was still an infant, I had something of an epiphany. I had been so wrapped up in the particulars of life (a life that wasn’t going particularly well at that point), that I had forgotten perspective. One morning, walking the dog with a sleeping infant on my chest, I reflected…
The prettiest parts of Spring – the pinks and whites and yellows of Spring – were just starting to peek out. There was mist hanging over the world, and there was peace all around. I thought about my Spring Breaks when I was a child – when my parents took us to the mountains of northern Georgia, and we spent the week trout fishing in a cabin with no electricity.
My first white-water rafting trip occurred on one of these trips, and ended in such disaster, I nearly avoided the water forever. Then, some ten years later, I was a river guide. Life is a funny place.
I remember those trips like balm on a burn. Ten hours in the van with Mom, Dad, Big Bro and Baby Bro, and the dog (a German shepherd named Fritz that we all still miss and tell stories about), nights spent in the Red Roof Inn on 81, hiding the dog because pets were not allowed, blasting our Walkmen (they were still Walkmen at that point) so that we couldn’t hear our parents’ horrible music (John Denver, The Guess Who, America, Lee Greenwood, The Eagles, Harry Chapin, Santana… all of which I now inflict on my children every chance I get), and begging our parents to find someplace better to spend vacation next year.
These trips with my family framed my young life. My dad taught me how to catch, clean, and fry a fish – on an outdoor grill, no less. I learned how pretty a river sounds when there are no buildings nearby. I learned who my parents were without work and newspapers and telephones. I learned to skip stones. (I learned that German Shepherds are carnivores, and that free-range guinea-hens are tasty. Blech.) I learned that TV is really a distraction, and that a fire, a lamp, and a family listening to a good story are truly more entertaining than anything I’d known.
I learned a lot about family on these trips, and as I was raised in DC, with ambitious parents, these weeks of nature and solitude are all the more special in my memory.
On that walk with my baby, I reflected upon these moments. All these silly, sad, delightful, crossed-wire moments that combine to make a life. Here I am, on the street with a baby and a dog (Fritz would’ve been proud of her – she’s been a great dog), and I was reflecting on the Spring of my own childhood. Holding my son, I was remembering my own father teaching me backgammon. My mother teaching me music, singing a tune and tapping with me in the laundry room. As my Grandfather would say, “Fitting.”
I have some really terrific things going on in my life today. I am truly blessed, no matter how rarely I deserve to be. I have a loving family, lifelong friends, and some bright shining faces that make up my future. I have everything I need, and almost everything I want.
How sad that these things are rarely enough to keep us fulfilled, yes?
I have had some fairly serious issues going on these past coupl’a months, and I’ve been feeling some self pity lately. Add to that the guilt that always comes when you know you’re fortunate, but don’t feel that way…
Spring takes all that away.
Spring means new life. New hope. Always a chance that we’ll make it right this time.
Spring means renewal. Spring means trying again. Spring means there’s another day. Easter means that the pinks and whites and yellows are coming back. Spring means I haven’t completely f*cked up, and that maybe my boys will remember their dad and me the way I remember my own parents.
New life. New hope.