Terry Marotta: The season of renewal

Terry Marotta

We look at the trees beginning to bud and say, “Here it all comes again! Thank heaven!”

But it’s the heart alone talking because when we say “it” we don’t just mean the new life outside. We mean all the lost things, all the lost people, and how can spring restore them to us?

Every night when I was 2 I would ask my mother to find three things for me: a missing neighborhood cat, a lost teddy bear and a little red ball that one day rolled into high grass and was gone forever. Could she do that while I slept? I would say, craning my baby neck to find her face in the slice of light growing ever smaller as she closed the bedroom door.

Even 2-year-olds know loss when they see it.

When she herself was 2, Mom’s young mother died suddenly, and I don’t believe she ever recovered from hearing what her father told her decades later: about how she had suffered so then, standing in her crib, sobbing and exhausted and calling her mother’s name.

Sometimes you look at life and you wonder how anyone gets through it.

But then there’s Emily Dickinson’s remark that ecstasy can be found in the simple things; that the mere sense of living is joy enough.

It’s been enough for me I know, and that’s even before you get to the blossoms of April.

I spent my first 10 years in a large household buzzing with the talk of five lively adults, three of them ancient elders born in the 1860s and ‘70s. And yes, it was sad and scary to lose all three of them in the space of one short year.

But then we began on a new chapter: Our mother and aunt moved us to another town and there, like the trees in April, we started over.

Mom signed my sister and me up for a ballroom dancing class where, duly bathed and dressed in our best, we were paired off with a series of equally well-scrubbed, extremely reluctant boys who propelled us backward in endless awkward foxtrots across the dusty floors of the town auditorium.

She got a job in a homecare agency while Aunt Grace went to work as a Latin teacher and nights around the supper table how they made us laugh with their days’ adventures!

I can almost say I laughed for the next 30 years, before heart attack took one and then the other with heart attack’s terrible swiftness.

But by then I had children myself and knew the joy that children bring.

I can still see one of my little ones at age six, running into the house with her even younger pal:


And then, 30 minutes later, back in again with the same big smile:


I think of the brisk windy morning last week when I saw couple chatting away in Chinese while their baby, dressed in a fuzzy yellow garment with a hood, staggered between them holding their two hands. The parents talked along gaily when suddenly the child stumbled, fell and flipped like a turtle onto her back.

She didn’t cry. She didn’t utter a peep. Safe in that dreamy baby chick of an outfit, she just lay there, trusting the universe and gazing calmly skyward.

There’s the real way to stay happy, I bet: by letting go, looking up a lot, and making those funerals lively. 

Write Terry or PO Box 270 Winchester MA 01890. Read more by Terry and leave comments at Exit