As a child I remember March as the windy month. It was the transition between the rainy California winter and the sun of summer. It also meant, flying kites. Mother would take me to the store and she buy me a paper kite kit and a ball of string. At home she’d cut up some old rags to make a tail while I carefully put the kite together. Then my older brother Rick would go with me out into the street and we’d try to get the thing airborne. Neither of us really knew what we were doing, but it was great fun. In the end we usually managed to get it to fly for a while.
It wouldn’t be too long after Rick and I got on the street that my our friends would come out to watch or help. Some would have their own kites and on a good afternoon, we’d have two or three flying above the trees. We’d fly kites for a few days – until they were broken by too many crash landings, or the strings were a hopeless tangle, or the string broke and the kite sent flying off towards the next county.
The March of my youth was a magical time with puffy clouds floating overhead, gentle breezes, budding flowers and chasing dreams, as we rode our bicycles to the park.
Now my view of March is different. With age and experience the wind is a bit colder, the clouds a bit darker and the kites harder to find.
I’ve written a couple of times about my mother (here and here) and today she is very much on my mind. It was six years ago this week that she died from pancreatic cancer. My brothers Bill and Rick were very close to mother, and her loss was the loss of not only a mother, but also of a friend. For me, mother was always my fondest childhood memory. She taught me so much – shaped so many parts of my faith and taught me the art of unconditional love. Sadly, she and I weren’t always as close and our relationship had it’s problems. Still, she was important in my life and one of my best teachers.
In the end Mother taught me about how to face death with faith and dignity. She died in March and we buried her on crisp but sunny morning.
Now each March Rick, will call me and want us all to visit the grave site.
March has changed.
Last year in March I couldn’t go as I was just finishing up my treatments for prostate cancer so we delayed to May. The year before, I wasn’t sure we’d go at all – because Rick was still recovering from his surgery for prostate cancer but he’d recovered enough by late March to make the trip.
Our habit has been for me to pick up each of my brothers and have lunch before we drive out to the cemetery – burger and fires, or a pizza, or anything else our wives won’t let us eat at home. We’ll remember stories of mother or of the times we had as boys or complain about the horrible state the world has fallen into. It’s difficult to get Bill across the grass in his wheelchair, so for the last couple of years he’s asked to stay in the car.
This year March has taken another on another shadow. Bill joined us for lunch today but not the drive to the cemetery. It’s just emotionally too much for him now. In the last couple of posts I’ve mentioned taking Bill to the doctor. This last week we got the news – he is now facing his own case of prostate cancer.
So this year, for the first time, only two brothers took the drive – only two stood by the grave.
But three brothers have been touched by the same cancer and I wonder why. Now is not the time to figure that out.
When Rick and I arrived at the cemetery I drove past our maternal grandparents’ graves before arriving at the field where mother lies. The sun was shining and the grass had dried out from the last rain. The sky was big with a few clouds drifting by. There were flowers everywhere and on one grave a bright red pinwheel turned in the breeze.
We should have brought a kite. The wind was picking up and it would have been a perfect day for flying it.