Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May is for Mothers

With my thanks to Kara at Cape Buffalo, I'm participating in a monthlong blogfest honoring all those who mother. I will post links to all of the phenomenal tributes I manage to find and get my hands on. Today, treat yourself to Misfit Hausfrau and bring along a tissue. The images and words of her "Mom" post are powerful and heartfelt.

I have had the fortune of writing about and to my mom for many years--13 to be exact. After her death in 1993, I began a project writing letters--some private, some shared--that either speak to her or about her. Inspired by Misfit Hausfrau's garden images and a fresh shower of rain currently dousing our newly planted grass seed, I offer this recent letter about spring flowers.

Dear Mom,

We planted bulbs last fall, a long-considered project but one we never managed to make the time for. I would look with envy at the neighbors’ yards in springtime as spotty patches of green would appear, working their way toward the sun, blossoms closed tight one morning and the next in colorful bloom. To plant in the fall, the end result always seemed too distant. To plant in the spring, the time always seemed to have passed. And of course my perfectionism would get in the way—if I don’t have the whole yard planned, flower by flower, why bother to plant at all? Then, there was the uncertainty of it all. Each fall we would return to work at the college, wondering yet again if we were in the right place, serving our purpose, engaging in meaningful work. What if we moved from the house and never saw the bulbs blossom at all?

This fall, however, was different. We were getting a little bit of sleep (something new since Lucas’s arrival, as you know!), and we happened to be in the Home Depot on a night in late fall when they were practically giving bulbs away in thanks for our removing them from the store. We planted late, late one night under cover of darkness (so much for perfection!) as frost and Thanksgiving both seemed to threaten their arrival. And the uncertainty? Well, our lives are no less stable. We knew we might be too late or never see the results of our late night escapade, but we decided to hope for the best and await some spring surprises.

Those surprises are appearing, day after day. First to arrive were the daffodil stems, still tightly closed leaves around the yellow flowers due soon. Some tiger-striped crocuses were peeping up as we drove home from nursery school on Monday. What will I see today as I round the corner onto our street?

The earth comes to life with such ease and grace, year after year after year. As Kyra and Lucas run and toddle to the front lawn each day to see the minute changes, I realize this is a lesson about far more than some simple flowers. They are learning the truth of life—the cycles of birth, growth, death, decay, and rebirth. I wrote in my journal when you were dying that I didn’t know whether to dance in delight or stomp on the flowers bursting forth from our lawn as you lay dying inside the house. The force of life is relentless. We resist futilely, or we let the sheer power, uncertainty and beauty of it all wash over us. This year, I am letting the waters flow….



Misfit Hausfrau said...

Wow. That is beautiful. Those letters are such a treasure! We took a bunch of my mom's bulbs, ferns and other plants from the house before she moved out. We planted them here, not knowing we would be leaving so soon. I'll be digging them up again and putting them in our new yard.

Kara said...

*ugh. again with the tears*
I feel the way you do about flowers about seeing babies at wakes and funerals. They are there to show that life and hope go on no matter what.
Thank you so much for posting that. I'll have a new appreciation of daffodills from now on.

Kristen said...

Great one, Jennifer - I had the privelege of reading that when you shared it with the August moms, and it's beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

See you.