All winter my siblings and I redecorated our small home as only a tribe of vandals can. We adorned every door, wall and window with gritty handprints. We decked the halls with crayon and lipstick art. I don’t know how Mom endured the slush and slop tramped on her carpets and waxed floors — courtesy of Mother Nature, who forgets everything she knows about housekeeping that time of year.
Still, Mom always looked ahead to better things and sunny days — when she could lock us outside.
Unlike most women of her generation, she did not begin spring cleaning with scrubbing walls. Not that she was soft on dirt. Mom didn’t tolerate halfway measures in dealing with grime — or sin.
When I came home from school and found hardware store paint chips on the kitchen table, I knew spring had officially sprung. Before the most optimistic robin chirped, before the calendar made it legal, my mother already had launched her yearly painting campaign.
For weeks she had hoarded a dollar here, a dollar there, so she could hit the paint sales. She held tiny rectangles of Heavenly Blue or Perilous Peach against dingy walls and stared for hours. We kids shrugged off this annual ritual as one more symptom of mom insanity. Fortunately, she ignored us. Every spring she covered our transgressions with coats of forgiving paint, recreating the house from one end to the other.
She also aimed her mighty paintbrush at ugly furniture stained by old bubble gum and purple Kool-Aid. Hand-me-downs from relatives, secondhand store finds, throwaways — she joyously transformed them all into quirky works of art. Once she antiqued a boring 1950s bedroom suite in colonial blue. Another spring she painted end tables orange.
If Mom still felt the paint itch, she sought out other places that needed color and warmth. My dad often pastored small, poor churches with cheerless Sunday school rooms and dark, scary basements. Mom and her paintbrush to the rescue! One spring she climbed a tall ladder and painted the outside of their church.
Eventually, health issues slowed her down, then Alzheimer’s. She still managed to paint both her front and back porches — and, unfortunately, the shower stall.
She is in heaven now, healthy and strong, enjoying the perfect home and a well-deserved rest. But I suspect if her beloved Lord needs a corner of His universe painted, she’s already showing Him color chips.
What spring ritual ushers in spring for your family? Painting? Cleaning? Locking your kids outside?