Seeds are my Mother’s Day gift. My first without my Mother.
Tall bellfower, leadplant, old field goldenrod, spotted Joe Pye weed, copper shouldered oval sedge, milkweed, all in clear plastic bags labeled with growing instructions. Sun exposure, soil type, moisture ideal for them. The seeds range in appearance from cottony wisps, to the smallest kernel, giving no clue how they will look as flowers. The seeds were packaged by students at my daughter’s elementary school. Together they will make a wildflower garden.
This year I stayed clear of the racks of Mother’s Day cards, didn’t even think to send one to my mother-in-law as I normally do. I did choose one for my daughter who is celebrating her first Mother’s Day. Phil and I went to the cabin on our own. This has been our habit in recent years, to plant seedlings on our land, but this year being discouraged by the deer who had been happily munching all winter on last year’s trees, we decided to sit this one out. I received texts from each of my children with photos of their smiles and whereabouts. Mae with LP in a backpack, his little hands gripping his mother’s waist. Phil made breakfast and I took off for Bayfield on my own for church, not wanting to miss out on the blessing given to mothers on this day.
I spotted the clear vase of loose carnations in a rainbow of colors up front, and thought they must be meant for us mothers to take home. Sure enough, at the end of the service, I stood in line with a dozen other mothers, hoping for a white carnation, reserved for someone whose mother was deceased, for others to see that I am a motherless mother now. Instead, Father smiled and handed me a peachy one–the color of the bridesmaids at my wedding, of my favorite fruit, of living flesh. After Mass, when the church cleared out, I went up front again, this time choosing a white one for Mom. White can represent lifelessness or it can be a sign of the spirit. I picked up a stem that had fallen, without any flower at all and put it with the other two stems wondering when I would be feeling Mom’s presence in moments like these.
I prefer not to force it, but will be open to what might be at work. Mom seems to be here, working behind the scenes, listening in, smiling at the wonder of life going on around us, how we are all carrying on without her, getting together on Sundays when we can. My sister Shari said Mom’s waxy hoya plant was blooming, which is rare. She sent me a picture of the blooms. The shiny white clusters with pink centers, look fake, like the porcelain florals we saw on graves in European cemeteries. An everlasting bouquet.
Rebirthing. Giving birth to memories of Mom.
In grade school or scouts there would be a special art project or craft with lots of flowers and hearts for Mom. Or a shopping trip to Ben Franklin for something pretty. My sisters and I would make Mom breakfast in bed preceded by a penciled menu. In my head, the breakfast tray would be covered in white linen, with flower in a vase, eggs on fine china. The tray would sit upright on legs straddling hers as she was happily propped up with plump pillows. I had to make due with a TV tray unattached from its stand, my eight year old arms holding on, dishes sliding, juice sloshing.
“Thank you girls,” she would say. As we flopped on the bed, waiting for Mom’s review of breakfast, to open her cards and gifts.
I realized Mother’s Day is for children, it is not something moms can celebrate on their own–it becomes just another day when you don’t have a mom.
Or as my friend Cindy so wisely shared, that “Mother’s Day was Mother’s Day, it is not a day I cherish much anymore (it has been a long time for me). She instead embraces her daughter-in-law now who is a mother.
After Mass I stopped to get a lemon poppy seed scone and sat by the lake and wrote for a while. Later, back at the cabin Phil and I sat on the wooden swing and called his Mom. I wished her a Happy Mother’s Day. She asked if it was a hard day for me. I told her no, not really, about the carnations at Mass. She chuckled about me helping myself to an extra flower.