We’re on our way to Deering Island Park, another stop on the banks of the river that stole my heart last summer. It’s a way away from where we live and it’s downhill, which is enjoyable for now but I fear some mumbling and grumbling on our way back. Not to worry, we cross that bridge when we get there, I tell the boys. They ride their bikes and I run alongside. It’s cloudy and crisp, I like it. The boys keep getting off their bikes to pick dandelions and spring bells. “These are for you, Mom.” For me. It’s Mother’s Day, of course. We follow the road and after crossing a couple of busy streets we’re in the countryside. Some of the houses are in rough shape, former farm houses, but they are beautiful and charming. Others are mansions with a block-long driveway and if I say they don’t belong here you might say I’m judgmental. So go ahead, say it, because I’ll still say they are too posh for the location anyway. The place really looks like no other in Vancouver. Sasha assumes people here speak a different language and ride horses instead of driving and until proven otherwise I choose to go with his excellent assumption. There are horse paddocks all over and it smells like it too. The sides of the road have dandelion freckles, little suns that brighten our day. Some are picked and they end in my hands. The road, all dusty and cracked here and there but in a countryside kind of way, is winding its back for us all the way to the river.
We reach the river banks. The water is murky, a big stream of dirty chocolate with stray logs playing peek-a-boo. There are white clouds curled up like kittens around large blue ones all over the horizon. The boys climb the rocks lining the banks and start playing a game they’ve never played before. One is Heracles, also known as Hercules (Tony) and the other one king Eurystheus (Sasha). Twelve labours are being assigned and carried on with diligence and pride. The game stops at times if there are mom-worthy flowers to be picked or when the little king has realizes suddenly that “Mom, king Eurystheus can do his own deeds if Hercules doesn’t want to.” Go figure!
We start making our way home with them mostly walking their bikes and me holding my wild flower offerings and helping with little king Eurystheus’s bike while he’s jumping ahead. No mumbling or grumbling. We walk, talk and laugh, cheeks are red and foreheads sweaty but the boys seem to love it as much as I do.
“We made it, Mom,” Tony announces as we reach the top of the hill. He looks at me with the largest smile ever. He knows what I had just realized: it’s not the breakfast-in-bed-on-a-fancy-tray kind of gift that makes me happy on Mother’s Day, but this, seeing my boys growing up to be thoughtful enough to stop and pick flowers off the side of the road over and over again, and then be strong enough to ride uphill and not give up until they reach the point where they can proudly say “We made it!”, no matter how steep the hill or how long the way up. Mother’s Day was a happy one!