By Gayvin Powers

Traditionally, May has been a milestone for me. I would ceremoniously chuck my waders and umbrella and say, “Goodbye, winter. Hello, spring!” As if overnight, the blossoming flowers were telling everyone that the darkness was over. It renewed hope within me. It gave me a fresh perspective on dreary situations. It was a new beginning.

Growing up, peace presided over our spring Sundays. After church, my family would sit in our Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired living room with floor-to-ceiling windows, letting nature come inside. I would stare for hours out the window at the blossoming azaleas and Japanese maple swaying in the breeze. My mother and I poured over our writings while birds chirped in the background, my father sketched and my brother built with Legos. The only time our spring ritual was interrupted was when we’d have a Sunday drive or on Mother’s Day — when my brother and I would make our mother breakfast in bed.

After my mother passed on, life wasn’t the same — even spring. Holidays, her birthday, Mother’s Day were all painful to me. Even spring couldn’t change the seemingly endless winter that surrounded me. I didn’t care about the money, trinkets or jewelry she left behind; none of it mattered. I clung to the memories of her. My grief was unreachable. I turned to the strongest memory we shared: writing. It became my solace, my salvation and my connection to her.

It was a gift. Eventually, spring returned. I realized that our greatest gifts in life come out of our biggest challenges.

“The Joys of Spring” is an issue dedicated to our mothers for Mother’s Day, overcoming the challenges of life, restoration and the renewal that life brings. We look at how to leave life better than we found it, whether it’s a professional football player giving up the game to become a farmer who feeds the poor, passing along a love of antiques, the story of three bridal portraits, a railroad house restored or a treasured mother-in-law. They are all gifts.

Every gift we need is already within ourselves. Thank you, spring. Thank you, Mom.