ELLENVILLE – Now that it’s truly delightful outside, it’s hard not to float through life in sunlight-induced ecstasy. Fragrant pink hyacinths intoxicate the senses, and firework displays of lilacs and lavender dapple the landscape, the aesthetic pleasure of the budding bursts of magnolias, popping with color… we’ve been waiting so long for this.
These are the days I want to be outside every conceivable minute. I want the sun on my body — I swear I can feel those joy molecules melting through me from the outside in.
I’m a naturally positive person, but these days it’s even easier to be thankful. My roller derby team won two weeks ago by 200 points! What a feeling — everyone should have those moments where you feel like a superhero. ("I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all," if I can quote Mr. Jovi.)
At home, while trying to write this column, musing on Mother’s Day and what it means, my nearly five-year-old daughter stops me repeatedly to sing her songs and ask me what I’m writing. I read her some of it, but she is disinterested, deciding instead to put plastic cups on her feet. I ask her why, and she says, "Because I ate too much candy, and I got cup feet." And then balances a cup on our dog’s head and says it’s "his Mystery Hat that’s yellow." All of this makes perfect sense to her, of course. She decides then to tie a red ribbon to me and attach the other end to the drawer handle next to me. She is delighted with herself, and exclaims, "You’re a knot-za-rella bear! You’re a tied buffalo!" You’d swear she just discovered a new species, she’s so excited. Then she laughs menacingly, a laugh my husband has dubbed her Christopher Lambert-in-Highlander laugh, and runs into the other room, full of the sillies…
I take the opportunity to sneak a piece of chocolate. Parents understand this sequestering of sweets, diving in during those brief moments when a child’s eyes are averted... and sometimes we are even successful.
I smoosh a few ants on the kitchen counter, because it’s now the season for them as well, and make a mental note to sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the house.
Summer is already filling up with visits and celebrations of every ilk. Trying to plan now takes Tetris-like skill, and, of course, Mother’s Day thoughts flow to my own mother, how much I miss her, and how I’ll never be the mom she was. Mental skies darken as I reminisce, and even the most positive memories of her bring crashes of sadness. Indeed, the happiest thoughts of her cut the deepest. Though my daughter taped up pictures of my mother next to her pillow and kisses them each night — her own idea — she will never truly know the saintly scent of my mother, never truly understand how selfless and amazing she was. She would always be baking from-scratch muffins for folks in her life for no reason at all — that’s the kind of person she was. This issue of the paper comes out on May 10, her birthday. She would have been 73 this year, if the ALS didn’t take her from us.
Ripley runs back in the kitchen and jostles me from my misty-eyed memories. She has brought over one of her favorite books — a Birds Of New York Field Guide. She pages through and ask me their names; her favorite right now is the Common Grackle. Her excitement never wanes. I smile wide like a beer barrel polka. And in these moments, everything is sublime.
— Amberly Jane Campbell