It’s been five Mother’s Days since mom passed away. Every year when this day rolls around, I sadly realize that I will not need to remember a card or flowers. It just happens that this Mother’s Day, I went plant shopping for another woman. A woman that I know was promoted at work, so I thought I would bring her a plant Monday morning. I went to a greenhouse that carries beautiful and unusual plants. As I was searching for the perfect plant, I couldn’t help but notice all the people buying plants, shrubs and bushes. I watched a father with a young boy and girl pick out a flowering tree and take it up to the register. All of a sudden I felt very lonely, until I remembered my mission. I found a beautiful calla lilly in deep red and orange with interesting spotted leaves. This was a perfect plant for a kind and inspirational woman. In fact, the lily is next to me as I write this post.
My relationship with my mother was turbulent, but our mother-daughter bond was strong. I think of her all the time. When I was younger, I was convinced that I was nothing like my mother. Now I’m not so sure.
I would send her flowers on Mother’s Day, birthdays and holidays. Now I wished that I had just brought them myself. Sometimes I did bring them, but not nearly enough. I was always too busy with my life, especially after she went into a nursing home.
I study the calla lilly next to me. Mom would have thought it was pretty, but not for her. She would have liked red geraniums. In fact, that’s what my father and I use to get her on Mother’s Day – red geraniums.
As I was walking towards Cere’s Street Bakery in downtown Portsmouth, N.H., I saw a young man quickly duck inside leaving his loyal companion outside. As I got closer I caught the tantalizing scents coming from the open door. It was just before lunch and soon there would be a long line of folks cramming their way inside the little bakery. As I slipped inside past the dog, I gave him a pat on the head and commiserated with him. Waiting is hard, but in this dog’s case, I bet a tasty reward will follow.
By the time I got to where I was going, I was soaked. The poncho that I was wearing was not a good choice for this wind and pelting rain. There would be no glorious sunrise this morning, but I was here, just as I had been every April 20 for the past four years. As the sky lightened, the wind and rain let up a little, I was able to walk further out onto the slippery rocks and watch the waves roll in.
Fives years ago today, I said goodbye to my mother for the very last time. My daughter and I scattered her ashes in the ocean by a little stretch of rocky beach. It’s a very special place, an isolated spot full of rocks and tide pools. It’s a place where I always feel a heightened sense of awareness.
As the rain picked up and I started my way back up the rocky path, I turned to look at the groupings of rocks, near where her ashes were scattered. If I could have any wish granted it would be for one more conversation with Mom. I would tell her how wonderful a mother she had been. Her door was always open, no matter what foolish things I did. We were so different, her and I. I know that I was not the daughter that she expected and she was not someone I always understood. Her ways were too steady for me. Her expectations were not mine. She bore many disappointments. But, no matter what, she was always there to pick up the pieces of my shattered life.
By the time I reached my car, I thought the same thing that I do every April 20 after the sun comes up. That maybe next year, she’ll be sitting on one of the rocks waiting for me and the sun.
Driving out to the ocean this morning, I almost missed these daffodils hidden along a woodsy section of road. I stayed awhile, absorbing nature’s beauty. I kept thinking of the eight-year-old boy, who must have been so proud watching his father run the Boston Marathon. A little boy blown up as he ran out to greet his father. All the people whose lives will never be the same again. These people must have been on top of the world just to run in the Boston Marathon. Now they return home amputees. Bombs made of ball bearings and nails. Who could have so much hate in them to do this? I asked myself this everyday, as the world gets more violent. It amazes me that flowers still continue to bloom in such a hateful world.
I sit at Adelle’s sipping a cup of tea looking at the few last pages of my journal. I had just worked a marathon week at a job that I don’t really care for. I pick up my pen and wonder if any words will come from a much tired brain and heart. I think of the grocery shopping yet to be done and some bills that need to be paid. This seems to be my life. A life that I created over the years. A life with stuff that needs to be paid for. I wish I could cut the cords that bind me to it.
I watch the young women behind the counter. Her name is Jess and she has been a barista here for awhile now. She looks so cute today in her black leggings and matching tunic. She is slight with long black hair and a array of colorful tattoos. She is confident and wears her freedom like a clock wrapped around her. I look at her battered knapsack thrown carelessly in the corner with her old brown leather coat laid across it. I know that she does yoga and travels a lot.
I look down at my journal and I am surprised to find that I have filled it. I don’t have anymore lines left. I have to write in the margins. I must remember to put it away with my other completed journals and stick a fresh one in my bag. I finish my tea and leave feeling light and smiling.
When I come out of the grocery store it is starting to rain. It’s only a few scattered drops, but I can smell the warm earthiness of spring in the rain. When I get home, I quickly put the groceries away. I get my sneakers on and leash up my two dogs. We go for a very long walk. When I return, I pour myself a glass of wine and go to my computer. My dogs lay at my feet.
I’m lucky that I have a job, while others don’t. I have a job where I help and care for people. On good days it does have meaning. I’ve learned that less is best. I am still paying for stuff that I have long since sold or given away, but the end is in sight. My filled journals pile up. Journaling has given me my life back. Amazing writing can come from journaling. Answers are hidden between the lines.
A couple so obviously in love finish their coffees with a kiss.
I awoke early this morning while it was still dark outside. Not only had it snowed sometime after midnight, but I had turned 60 years old. As far as I am concerned, 60 is an amazing feat not to be taken lightly. It is also more than a gentle reminder that life is too short to let dreams go their way.
Early this week I read about a Russian composer, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, who produced a wide variety of symphonies, operas and ballets. When he was a child, he was assailed by melodies and rhythms that constantly ran through his mind. He would beg his mother to take the music out of his head so he could sleep.
This is what I wish for the rest of my life. For my mind to be so full of words that the only way to get them out of my head is to weave them into stories. I will have to write many stories, so new words can fit into my head. I wish never to be without my camera, because photographs tell tales. I wish never to stop feeling and seeing.
That was my birthday present to myself and a promise to keep.