Monday, March 31, 2014
Anniversary Blooms and Belly Buttons
A year ago today, my Mother left us to our memories of her. Some of those memories bloom in my garden -- so many plants she brought here from her own. The omphalodes cappadocica in this photograph are in bloom right now. Not sure how she managed that clever trick. I remember the day she put two or three divisions into this inhospitable rocky plot in the seaside part of our yard. It was at least 8 years ago, perhaps 10, but I still remember her telling me how she loved their name, its reference to the navel that gleams white in the flower's blue centre. They've sprawled their delicate way now across a small horticultural empire, belly button by belly button. (We were never allowed to say "belly button" when I was growing up -- proper names for body parts were preferred, somehow thought more, hmmm, genteel? cultivated? In elementary school, I felt slightly awkward about the term, the way it separated me from my peers, but I couldn't feel comfortable breaking the family contract, even away from home, somehow. And perhaps I was secretly proud of the difference. . . )
Have I mused here before about the significance of my mother planting a Navel-referencing flower in my garden? It's a sticky thought, no? What with my navel being a potent reminder of that special time she and I spent together. . .
And now she's gone, but the flowers have sprung up yet again. As Tennyson wrote, in words my mother had engraved when my brother died some 38 years ago, "And every winter change to spring." Tennyson couldn't quite be consoled by the sentiment, and I'm not sure I am. But there's a sweetness to seeing these wee pretties reappear. Even though my mother, father, and brother, remains all nestled under that same gravestone, will not.
Life continues. I'm keeping an eye out for the spring blooms. What else can you do, right? But I'd love her to know we're going to Italy on her dime in June, 10 of us (3 adult children, their partners, 2 grandchildren, Paul and I). I think she'd like that. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know that the only reason our 4th is not coming with us is because she'll be getting too close to the ETA of our next grandchild. And I wonder what she'd think of me getting ready to run a marathon at 60+, given that she regularly walked such long distances. Or even just of me being over 60, a feat I achieved several weeks after she departed. . . .
But she's gone, and I'm left with a wealth of siblings, their partners, my nieces and nephews, my own lovely family, all hers and Dad's most important legacy. And a love of books and gardening and classical music, especially opera. Thanks to her, I play piano and can knit and have a weakness for butter and know how thoroughly to clean those tight little spaces between faucet and countertop. . . . She never could convince me to like retsina though. . . .
I find this is a tough post to end appropriately. It's calling for closure at this point, and, you know, I'm not there yet. I suspect closure is a myth anyway, and I'm not ready to put a verbal bow on Memories of Mom. So. I'll just tiptoe away, I think, take my morning cup of tea out to the garden and sit in the morning sunshine for a moment next to a Belly Button flower, see if I feel any little guilt over not calling it an omphalodes cappadocica. That's me gone then. . . . Bye.