Friday, May 14, 2010

A Mothers Gift

Last spring I received an unexpected package on the porch. It was from a mail order nursery and I knew I had not ordered anything that spring. Upon opening the package and looking at the invoice, I found that my mother had ordered these flowers for my yard the previous fall while she was bed ridden and dieing of cancer. I remember her telling me that if she couldn't enjoy them anymore, I should. She died that December. As you can imagine, I cried, and cried. For day's. And I eventually planted them. They seemed to not thrive during that year and eventually disappeared. I thought I had killed them. I was very sad to think that the last gift my mother had given me I had lost.

This spring those little buggers returned! How surprised and sentimental I was when I noticed they were back. This last week one sent up a beautiful spike of small peach flowers which darken each day at the bottom as new ones open above in a paler shade. Whenever I see them, I naturally think of my mother. But now, since a year has passed, I can see them without so much sadness. I feel like they responded last spring to my grief and shrivelled from sight to ease my pain. (yes, I think like this!) But this year maybe they returned to bloom and remind me that though all things must die, there is more.

Now I know that most likely, they will die off again in late summer as many perennials do, to return again the next spring. But the irony was not lost on me. My mother gardened her whole life. Raised on farms, she had a need to touch the soft warm earth each spring and coax vegetables and flowers from the soil in every place they lived. While stationed in Alaska, (I was not a twinkle yet) she discovered permafrost. Permafrost is when the ground thaws out, but only about 6 inches or so. Things sprouted up, and died a week later. Their roots could not go deep enough to make a life in the cold Alaskan soil. The year she died, my heart had permafrost.

I have to say, of all the things she passed to me my love for gardening is one of the things that makes me think of her the most. I am doing a series of floral watercolors right now and I keep thinking about how mom each spring would drag home flowers that she could not plant because she hadn't the strength anymore to dig the ground. But she could still spend $$! So she would coerce my father or pay my son or beg me to plant them for her! And the yard just filled up with color!

This all reminds me that I have to keep painting. I may work on a painting and have a permafrost experience some days. But sometimes the rewards from planting are the surprise flowers that come from what you thought had died or from seeds you had forgotten you had sown.

Look for the surprises in the small things and appreciate their willingness to teach you!

1 comment:

  1. Michelle...............What a beautiful thing to share with all your friends. I knew your Mom and she made those floweres bloom with the help of tenderloving care from you, to remind you of her love for you and the beauty in not giving up on something so precious as a surprise gift, the gift of love and beauty.
    Your the best Michelle.............
    Love, Tara