It’s been a long winter, can I hear an “amen” on that? Oh man. Usually in the midwest we have at least a nibble of spring by now, but this year? Not even a taste.
When we were taking care of my hubby’s dad back in 2000, I’d see him staring out the window and ask him what he was thinking and he’d always say, “I’m just waiting for spring.” And sigh.
Spring — he thought spring would bring health and vitality and he’d be able to go to the grocery with us again, and sit out on the back porch, or sit at the kitchen table and make lists for our next trip to the grocery and talk for hours and hours. Dad was a gruff grumpy guy who seemed like he had little to say, but he loved to talk to his kids and the man loved to make his lists. And we loved him so very much.
His faith in spring was so endearing, but it broke my heart, because spring would not bring what he’d hoped it would.
Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his brain in October 1999. We emptied out the apartment where he was brought as a newborn and his beloved fish swam in a red bucket at my feet as we drove out of the El Strip behind his apartment building. He came to live with us after much discussion with the family, and it was here that he died almost six months to the day of diagnosis.
The first day I saw him staring out the window, I asked if he needed anything from the grocery as I was making a quick run. He handed me his list–his beautiful black hand writing scrawled on the pale blue lines–and smiled sadly, and then looked back out at the scratchy tree limbs against the gray winter sky. It had begun to snow.
At the store I found daffodils, and I bought some of the green stalks with no blooms yet. When I got home I propped the daffodils in a mason jar and set them on his dresser drawers.
Dad stared at the stalks and asked what they were. “They’re daffodils and soon you will have your very own spring.” I answered and he looked at the green stalks and scoffed. Didn’t much look like spring to him.
I shook my head smiling as I filled his little containers with snacks and put them “just so” on the table next to him. “Just wait and see,” I said. As he clucked, and repositioned the little containers again.
The next morning, I got him up in his chair for his breakfast. Overnight some of the blooms had been coaxed from their green sleeves, and bright yellow spring flowers bobbed in the pale morning light. A smile spread over Dad’s face despite himself when he saw them, and he shook his head. I could see that he was pleased as I dropped a noisy kiss on his forehead and he waved me off with a “Hrrmph.”
Spring had sprung somehow, even with a foot of snow outside our door, and cancer clouding our horizon. Spring had come just for Dad in a tiny Mason jar.