Recently Matt Meister, Chief Meteorologist at our local KRDO News Channel 13, gave a tour to classrooms of elementary-age students. One of my favorite comments was from a fifth-grader from Pueblo: “My Nana told me that clouds are God painting the sky, but you said they are made of water.”
Meister took the boy, his class and teacher outside and showed them the cirrus clouds. He pointed out how the clouds looked like a paintbrush had made them, and then he said, “It’s pretty obvious to me that your Nana is right, but maybe she forgot that God uses watercolors!”
I knew you would like that story, Mom. I remember when I was about that age and you came out and sat down beside me on the lawn. You joined me in finding people and animals in the thick, puffy cumulus clouds floating overhead. One wispy, thin cirrus cloud trailed off by itself, and you said it reminded you of a poem. Later we looked up William Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud ~ that floats on high o’er vales and hills ~ When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils…” The next time you got out your watercolors, we tried painting clouds.
They were a lot harder to paint than they looked, and I got frustrated. I was probably whining and complaining when you finally took out a box of supplies. You gave me chalk and colored pencils, a Big Chief Tablet and crayons. You told me to draw clouds on the sidewalk or color clouds on the tablet with crayons or pencils. It didn’t matter, as long as I kept trying until I was proud of the clouds I made. As the British writer G.K. Chesterton wrote: “There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.”
What a lesson I learned that day, Mom! You taught me that creating something was important, worth my best effort. You also taught me to try, try again until I was proud of my efforts, and to be my own critic.
When I think of that lesson, I remember that Chesterton also wrote this: “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”
I love you, Mom, and all the gentle, real lessons you taught me. You don’t remember them, but I do, and I’ll share them with your grandchildren and great-grandchildren so they’ll know the lessons, too, and know they came from you.