On rain and mothers

The rain returned to Portland yesterday. It soaked my new plants thoroughly, giving me hope that they’ll take root before the real summer comes. While the rain was falling on Mother’s Day yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking about memories of my mom and the rain.

When I was little, I remember when my brothers and sister and I were playing outside in the mud after the rain. My mom came outside to stop us, but then the mud found its way onto her clothes, her hair, and her face. She ended up splashing in the mud beside us, smiling as she dug her toes into the earth and smooshed a mud pie in my brother’s face.

When we were older, she worked nights as a cashier at a local motel after a long day of teaching. One day, my brothers and I were home together, laughing and splashing in a sudden downpour as lightning streaked the sky. Our shirts were soaked through and our hair wet when my mom pulled up and dragged us inside and into the basement, yelling at us that there was a tornado warning, and why weren’t we answering the phone?

I distinctly remember the smell of the rain as it soaked into the pavement of the church parking lot outside of our house. That smell reminds me of home. Of mud pies. Of huddling in the basement. Of eating snacks that were meant to save us from a disaster. And even now, when the rain falls after a dry spell, I think of my mother, standing in the doorway, dragging us to safety or falling into our childish games. Either way, those memories make me want to grab my own son and drag him back in time. If just to smell the rain.