There, sandwiched between my childhood dresser and an old bookcase, I see a piece of paper poking out of a copy of Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. Even before wiping away a thick layer of dust, remnants of a couple years spent in the back of our storage closet, I know the contents of the folded sheet of copy paper. My grandfather handed it to me weeks before he died – a poem on motherhood. Not the kind of thing you’d expect from a military man, but he rarely ever spoke of his time in the service, and by the time I came along he had already retired from a career in education and spent much of his time on the arts. Too sleep-deprived to fully appreciate the gesture when he handed it to me days after Hudson’s birth, now I sit down to read the words again. Words I suspect will make more sense the longer I am a mother.
I don’t pause for long. On the heels of a major home renovation, spring cleaning gains new meaning. I carefully recrease the poem and tuck it back inside the book. It goes in the “keep” pile, a rare display of mercy in a session of ruthless closet purging. As I stuff old bridesmaid dresses into a bag bound for Good Will, I think about the kind of man he was. The kind of man I want to raise. And for the first time since his death, I don’t cry when remembering him. Rather, I feel inspired by his memory. I carry out a bulk trash bag feeling a little bit lighter.
Whether the change of seasons has you sprucing up your outdoor space (page 50), reconnecting with people you love (serve my lemon garlic pasta on page 26 – you won’t be disappointed!), or just cleaning out an old storage closet, I hope you find the same spring in your step.
Image by Amy Frances.