This past Friday, April 9th, was a spectacular spring day to be outside. Tony and I worked together in the yard, trying to eradicate those endless weeds and spotlight the spring flowers. I had a writer's notebook at the ready, trying to capture "live action" words for writing haiku, which was that day's poetry prompt with Dr. Sarah Donovan's Ethical ELA #VerseLove, where I am writing poetry every day in April.
Tony and I, we remembered how, when we received word that Papaw had died, we immediately packed up the kids and the car and drove the long drive south from Maryland to Atlanta to be with family, to be in mourning. All along the long, long drive, spring flowers were blooming, and what was especially beautiful were these gorgeous purple blossoms that seemed to burst through the greenery of the trees - redbud trees. All along the way, purple, purple, purple.
My father-in-law died at age 87, a couple months before our youngest son was born. He was a truly good and kind soul and it's always made me sad that I only knew him for maybe seven-eight years, that I had not had more time with him. We lost three of Tony's family in 1995; in addition to his father, who died of cancer, he lost two older brothers, one to a heart attack and one to cancer. It was a brutal year for us, in our young marriage, grieving all this loss.
Lots has happened in those twenty-six years. Our youngest child is an adult now, and he never even got to meet this grandfather. His whole memory of Papaw and his uncles is through our family stories, memories shared. Even our older sons were short-changed in their time with these loved ones, being only 6 and 3 years of age.
I do believe we have done a pretty good job of sharing memories with them, through the years.
But that is the way life works, yes? We live and we die. If we are lucky, we get to love and be loved. Yes, for me, this awareness of the tenderness, the fleetingness, the fragility of life is felt more profoundly during this time of pandemic, with so many abbreviated lives all around.
Let me close with some haikus about these redbud reflections - Tony and I actually wrote the fifth one together, which was very sweet.
turning over the soil
we planted a redbud
to bloom each year at this time
in your memory
when the redbud blooms
we remember when you died
and sent us kisses
flashes of purple
amongst the bright greenery
throughout the mountains
reassurances from you
all the long drive south