TITLE: When Spring Arrives – Revised 4-2-14
By Phyllis Stokes
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NOTE: I have not figured out how to italicize font here.
Anthony walked up the dusty unpaved road, an oversized duffel bag thrown over his broad shoulder. Half his face was filled with eager anticipation, the other half with paralyzing fear. He had not seen his Mom-mom in more years than he cared to admit. Except for the few times she managed to track him down through friends, they had barely even spoken over the phone.
Still, he couldnâ€™t imagine his own mother rejecting him. But what if she did? What if it had been too long? What if he had made too many mistakes, too many broken promises?
How could she ever trust me again? Anthony's mind raced as he looked up through the thinning branches of an old oak tree. He thought about all the days he'd spent under that tree trying to figure things out. Things he wished his father had explained. But he had left soon after Anthony was born, over 25 years ago.
As he grew, he fantasized about his dad coming to his football games and how he would get his advice about girls. Mom-mom did what she could when she wasn't sleeping. After working double shifts at the nursing home, not much time or energy was left at the end of the day.
Anthony began searching. He didn't know for what. But whatever it was, he hadn't found it at home. Barely out of high school and out on his own, he'd made such a mess of things. He had thought staying away was a more loving thing to doâ€”more loving than subjecting Mom-mom to the unrelenting shame that had become his constant companion.
His head hung low, he headed toward the house,wondering if he should turn back. Reaching the curve in the road, he could see Mom-mom sitting on the porch. She had looked up from the book on her lap. Can she see me? Does she recognize me? Her appearance offered no telling expression, nothing to forewarn him of angry or joyâ€”or even apathy.
I should have called first. What was I thinking to just show up without warning...and after all these years? Okay... just stay calm. You're almost there.
Mom-mom laid the book down on the large rocking chair. Her frail body left plenty of room beside her. She leaned forward and squinted her eyes, using the palm of one hand to shield the mid-day sun.
Anthony was only a few feet away from the half-painted picket fence that surrounded the house. Seemed no one had touched it, or the house, since he left. Over-grown weeds covered the posts; the gate barely hung on to the rusted out hinges. I better stop hereâ€”just in case.
Anthony stood and waited for what seemed forever as Mom-mom just stared.
She started from his shoes and made her way up to his face. Anthony swallowed the lump in his throat, then came closer until he reached the edge of the porch.
Go ahead.... do it, look at her. That's the least you can do. Anthony was sure his thoughts must have been audible.
Their eyes met in a moment that held eternity. The tears that had welled in Mom-mom's eyes filled the wrinkled lines in her cheeks. Still, neither of them spoke. Words seemed inappropriate; a single gaze emptied the content of their hearts.
The years apart had been brutal, cold and bitterâ€”a lifeless dull shade of brown. A separation of distance could have been tolerable, but a separation of hearts had produced barrenness.
Anthony watched Mom-mom, much older than he remembered, as she slowly stood up from her chair. He had forgotten how much comfort he found in her smile. Her eyes sparkled with youth of days gone by.
The bottom stepped creaked under Anthony's weight as he stepped up on the porch. Mom-mom flung her arms open, then locked them around Anthony's waist. Her embrace spoke of the hundreds of thousands of seconds that had painted her dark hair white.
According to the calendar it was mid-September, but for them, it was the first day of spring. Mom-mom had always loved spring. She once told Anthony that it was a reminder of Godâ€™s unfailing love.
It was a time to enjoy freshly mowed grass, blue jays singing their praises and dormant flower buds coming to full bloom. The stifling air was crisp again...fresh and breathable with the aroma of hope, new beginnings and renewed expectation.
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