Today is Easter. We will celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the rebirth of life itself. I should be happy and grateful, but today three empty chairs at the dinner table will haunt me. My wife will make a wonderful meal of baked ham and green beans and potato salad. Our foothills dance in greens, yellows, and oranges, while the Sierras sleep, still blanketed in snow. Baby rabbits explore their nest boxes and junior rabbits wait for their first sojourn in Reno.
Easter vacation has been productive: fences mended, house cleaned, saddles readied for spring riding. At dinnertime, we will give thanks. I will enjoy the company of my wife and youngest daughter, but I will see those three empty chairs. I have been told life continually changes, and that I do not adjust well. Where is my oldest daughter? I know my son is away at college on the East Coast, and I miss him greatly. I know my mom is in Heaven. I know; I know; I know, but I really don't. Life is confusing; I try to establish routines to hem in life and keep it simple and understandable. I know this is impossible and should cherish life as it appears anew each day.
Yesterday, I read my neighbor’s blog. Judy wrote about another neighbor, Darlene, who found out she had ALS. Darlene worked at my school; she was in charge of making sure parents sent their kids to school each and every day. Darlene reminded me of my mother; both were determined to deal with debilitating diseases on their own terms. One day, I watched from atop the steps as Darlene tried her best to walk from the office to the cafeteria. She fell, and I went to help her up. With her pride slightly wounded, but determined as always, she continued on to the cafeteria. I did not know how to put my admiration into words, so I made her a bouquet from my mother's irises. I think Darlene appreciated the thought behind those flowers; she talked about them often.
Judy wrote about how, after the the ALS progressed, Darlene wanted to give her orchids to those who would cherish and nurture them. Judy's blog reminded me of my mother and her love of irises. With El Nino, the irises are blooming profusely and with each blossom, I’m reminded of my mom. I miss those conversations about life. I was the college graduate, but she was the one with wisdom. She seemed to take life on its own terms and rarely questioned it; she just found the beauty in what was in front of her. Unlike my mom, I question life too much.
In “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Whitman writes about the relationship between objects and memories over the expanse of time. When the Tulare County Master Gardeners Club tend to their new orchids, they will remember Darlene; when the irises bloom each spring, I will think of Mom; and when I see those empty chairs, I will be reminded that I still have much to learn.