In the last two weeks, Spring burst out in Kansas with greening lawns accented with bright yellow, purple and white crocus blossoms. Spring also brought tornado warnings to Ft. Scott, along with hail the size of golf balls. During that same time, in Colorado winter stayed longer and lived up to its reputation of “Springtime in the Rockies,” which means bursts of snowstorms and bitter winds.
Remember when David and I were in elementary school and everyone in southeast Kansas woke up to a late winter storm of nearly two feet of snow? Our cousins George and Glee had come from Missouri to spend the night and were supposed to go home that day. Because of the blizzard they stayed four extra days, and we kids were in heaven. Markus Zusak could have been writing about us in his novel, The Book Thief, when he said, “A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.” The four of us built snow forts and tunnels in the back yard, launched snowball wars, and peeled out of wet boots, hats, mittens and coats at the back door so we could come inside and warm up with hot chocolate and oatmeal cookies.
On the last day, when the roads were cleared and we learned our cousins would leave the next morning, I sneaked into the laundry room to take Glee’s clean socks that waited to be packed. I planned to hide them behind the piano, certain that she couldn’t go home if she didn’t have her socks. (I admit it was a dumb plan, but I was 8 and doing the best I could, okay?) You caught me hiding her socks.
While the others got to watch “Superman” on TV, you and I had a sit-down talk in my bedroom. I remember sobbing that it wasn’t fair that my big-girl cousin (Glee was 3 years older) couldn’t stay longer. You didn’t hug me or console me. You sighed and said that I could either enjoy every hour I had left with my cousins and be grateful for that time…or I could feel sorry for myself, sit and cry, and miss out on all the good things that might happen.
That was more than five decades ago, Mom, but I still remember those options. Even now, when I come to visit you in Kansas, if you’re napping or unresponsive or confused about who I am or why I’m there, I just keep moving. I take out bottles of fingernail polish and ask you to choose the color you like, or I hold up a book and start reading to you, or I open the sack of treats I’ve brought and ask you what looks good. After a while, we’re oohing and aahing as I paint your nails a bright pink, or we’re smiling as I wipe cupcake icing off your mouth. You don’t always realize who I am, but I always love it when you pat my hands and say, “You’re just the nicest girl.”
I don’t try to guess how much longer it will stay like this for our visits each month, but while we are together, we’ll make the most of the time we do have instead of crying because it can’t be longer. That’s all any of us can do, at any age.
“The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them; there ought to be as many names for love.” ~ Margaret Atwood
“A lot of people like snow. I find it an unnecessary freezing of water.” ~Carl Reiner
“Let every man shovel his own snow, and the whole city will be passable.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson