Sunday, March 23, 2014

Winter and spring


It is the first day of spring, and a screen door bangs. My Grandpap moves into the afternoon's low light. He walks slowly, an oxygen tank over his shoulder where once a backpack rode when he summited mountain peaks. It wasn't long ago that he was hiking the trails of the Olympics and Cascades, but now he moves slowly along our gravel road.

Three weeks ago the rain fell cold, and an ambulance pulled into the carport alongside the red wagon and a soccer ball. The children converged at our window, watching Grandpap's door, recognizing the faces of those that bundled him onto the guerney and left with lights flashing. Grandpap returned home last week to a carefully crayoned banner, and fragile though he was, he smiled long when my sister placed the littlest one in his arms. Oh -- the medicinal value of a baby!

Today, in the damp green, children run, wrestle, laugh. The rain has stopped, and we are hungry for this promise of new beginnings, new life, sunshine after the gray. Mercy reaches for my hand, fingers gritty from the sandbox, and the big boys race through puddles on their bikes. I pull hand-knit wool over my ears, then gather handfuls of bright camellias. It is spring, but I can feel winter yet. I feel pulled between the seasons.

The children hear Grandpap's door and converge. Small legs churn and words tumble as the littlest ones realize he is out for a walk. They will trot behind or ride ahead. They will tell him stories that he may not be able to hear, but he will nod and exclaim. Someone will wade through a mud puddle and look for Pappy's response, and one will inevitably reach for his hand. They will share a walk in the sunshine, winter and spring, side by side.