When I left to take my daughter to school this morning, I noticed a few shoots poking out of the ground beside the front door. Spring is starting to waken in Ontario, although winter has been more or less non-existent this year. While I will be keeping an eagle eye on the Dairy Queen near my mother's apartment, waiting for it to open to herald spring, my father always watched for the flowers.
Around this time of year, footprints would start appearing in the front garden. My father would start checking for the first sign of crocuses and snowdrops poking their noses out of the ground. My father was a complex man, as I have come to realize with adult insight, but he could be quite childlike in his delight in things like Christmas carols or spring flowers. He would practically dance a Snoopy dance when he spied the first shoots pushing out of the ground. He wanted to be the one to see the first flowers of spring, and then announce it to my mom and I. Footprints in the garden proved his dedication.
I had an interesting discussion on Facebook a few days ago with a bunch of people. An acquaintance and fellow writer lost her husband suddenly, and said she started seeing robins that she felt were sent by her husband to comfort her in this surreal time. That led to admissions from many of us about seeing animals or butterflies or finding pennies after a loved one had died. I always think of my dad when the mourning doves arrive in our backyard, because it was only after his death that I started noticing them. The morning after his sister died, two mourning doves appeared on our deck, and sat on the railing, looking in at my then not quite 2 year old daughter who was having breakfast in her high chair, which looked out on the deck. Birds and kid observed each other for quite awhile, and I'm sure my aunt was telling her brother all about his granddaughter, since she had met the Kid. It was not random.
A couple of years ago, a patch of snowdrops turned up in the lawn. I didn't plant them in the middle of the lawn. I certainly didn't plant them on the slope beside the driveway so they could be lawnmower food. I think they were a gift from my dad to me, since they were his favorite spring flower, and they bloom right beside the spot where the passenger door is located when my husband's car is parked. It's the spot I get in and out of the car.
There may not be any footprints in the snow any more, but there are snowdrops in the lawn and they stir happy memories. While the logical adult in me knows it was probably a random act of squirrel, I choose to believe they were a gift from my dad.
Miss you dad.