When I was a child, spring arrived when my mother cried out, “Look. The first robin!”
No matter that frost in Pennsylvania could linger into May. Mother’s thrill at sighting that small, orange-breasted bird’s return after winter was a sign—spring had officially begun.
That’s what I told my friend because she had just said that spring was her favorite time of the year. “I wonder if it will get cold again?” she’d said.
As we walked through the neighborhood, redolent with the fragrance of flowering pear and cherry trees, I didn’t say that my mother suffered from anxiety and depression her whole life. Or that her joy at seeing the first robin was probably as much about hope as spring. Maybe she expected life to feel better.
For me, spring meant longer days, time dwindling toward the end of the school year…shedding the heavy winter coat. An expectation of summer and barbecues to come of roasted chicken and corn at the old picnic table near the weeping willow. It meant Mother in pale-pink sleeveless dress pouring iced tea from a glass pitcher.
It struck me after I said this about my childhood. “I’ve been around a long time.”
My friend said she felt that way too. “On Easter, my sister and I drank shots of Bailey’s Irish cream from the same glasses our mother used to put eggs in when we were little girls.”
We kept walking, two motherless women.
“I wonder if life will ever go back to the way it was?” she mused. She said a couple people she knew doubted life would return to ‘normal’. “Whatever normal is.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “International travel…. I can’t see myself in a place like Morocco or Nepal again.”
We walked past a flowering magnolia tree. A montage of white-pink petals spread beneath the tree like a woman’s wedding train.
A bird tweeted its song.
We stopped to listen.
“Maybe, it’s my mother’s robin,” I said.
9 thoughts on “My Mother’s Robin”
Life marches on and never returns to the way it was.
Hi Boyd. Thank you for stopping by. The times we live in seem to magnify that.
Yes. Opposition to change is a major flaw in the conservative philosophy (political and otherwise) because change is inevitable. They can only slow down and seek to minimize the change.
My mother was always looking out for the first crocuses to stick their heads out of the wintery soil. Jubilation when they began to bloom. Spring is so full of hope.
Thank you, Anne, for sharing that reflection about your mother. My mother also would exclaim about the first crocuses. Hope is indeed the antidote to doubt and despair.
Susan, if we lose hope, we lose life. There’s no reason to live if we have no hope that tomorrow is better than our past. Over the decades I have seen how people let themselves die when they’ve lost the ability to hope. Winter depression is real.
Hope is so needed, Anne, as you say. Thank you for sharing your experience with hopelessness and the darkness of winter in that vein. Spring can be a lovely reminder that despite all we’ve been through in our lives, a bird or a flower offers a moment of joy. I remember that with my mother.
Susan, I too always note the first robin sighting as a sign of the coming spring. This year I am also watching with avid interest as a pair of bluebirds make their home in my new nesting box.
Birdwatching is a perfect pastime for these unusual times. Not only because can I do it from the window over my writing desk, but because the birds remind me that life goes on, no matter what trouble humans get themselves into.
Marilyn. I can just see you at your writing desk taking in those bluebirds. Lovely. Life does go on, just not always how we anticipated. So we write. Thank you for sharing here ‘along the writer’s way’.