And so I did this one important thing yesterday, I planted a Bradford pear in the middle of a field amongst the other hopefuls. I see this as a confirmation that I will be here yet another season to watch it grow and years later to pick the fruit and, in that August watch the chickens enjoy the overly ripe pears that have fallen from the tree when I have had my fill and have given away and dehydrated until I’m done. I will watch with delight as I let them out of their coop and they run and waddle to the space beneath the tree where they are so satisfied and happy. They will pay me again with the eggs they lay, the eggs that have become part of the tree that is part of the ground that is part of the Bradford Pear I planted today!
|a water break
It is Sunday morning now and my sleep was crowded with images and dreams. I woke to the clinking of wind chimes right outside of my window instead of the harshness of the alarm, but even with this lovely awakening, I feel somewhat downhearted from my dreams. They were not bad dreams but they were imaginings of my life – mostly of me and Elizabeth.
She was little, something I always thought she would be and we were here in the middle of a summer day or a week end and I said, “let’s ride over to …”and we got in the car, she with her pigtails and missing front teeth and me with my youth and a day to enjoy and we went on an adventure. On the way, I held her tiny hand as I drove – something I always did and we listened to the Beatles, something we always did, and we did “something”. I didn’t recall what we did in my dream, for that was not the importance, the importance was that we “did”, that she has been my little friend, my little companion for 18 years and soon she will be someone I rarely see.
It is not nearly June, not nearly graduation and my heart is already tender. These children, these changes – they take your heart, they make you grow, and then they become these wonderful people that find their own lives – just as they should, just as we want. But, I think every mother reading this knows they all still have little hands to hold.
Here I am in Boulder, at the threshold of another chapter of my life; this one is going to be about adult children finding their way, a way without their parent’s “participation”. I could title it “I Got That Mom”. It’s good, it’s what I set out to do, raise them to be independent and to be courageous and creative enough to follow dreams, but it’s poignant; it’s hard to say goodbye to a role I cherished for 31 years.
The most arresting certainty that things in my life had changed happened at a very unlikely place; it occurred at a rest stop in the middle of the wheat fields of Kansas. My husband and I had been traveling for hours on Hwy. 70 and it was time to stretch our middle aged legs after miles and miles of “amber fields of grain”. We finally came upon an abbreviated sort of rest stop and pulled in. Right there at that moment I realized something was over – it hit me in the heart when I saw only my husband up ahead on the sidewalk – the kids weren’t there anymore but like a figment, I could so easily see the four boys with ball caps and abounding energy and Elizabeth garbed totally in pink with sunglasses and sandals trailing behind or holding one of her brother’s hand. It was there in my mind so vivid and clear and it was difficult admitting that “we will never pass that way again.” That wonderful part of my life as “mom” is over; the kids are gone.
I am happy about where all of them have gone and I am certainly enjoying the ease of travel but it amazes me how momentary times of your life are – they leave your reach so quickly it seems. Anyway, I am here in Boulder with the twins and they are having a wonderful experience and are writing the chapters of their own lives. I am now more of an onlooker and I think that in time, I will grow to love this more passive part I now have. I hope I have done my best and I look forward to reading each new chapter they write.
I did something powerful this week; I reached a breakthrough in my healing, my getting past the deep emotion attached to losing my mother; I went to City Park in New Orleans and I had Elizabeth with me (and a camera). It has been almost exactly 15 years since I was there. It was the last little adventure I had with my mom before her death in august 1997. She didn’t feel well that summer of 1997, tired and not much enthusiasm towards things but she did want to see Elizabeth ride the century old carousel “before I die” she declared. How often do we carelessly use that catch phrase, “before I die” – I never took it literally; sadly, however, it was prophetic .
Anyway, we did go to the City Park in New Orleans that summer – my mom, myself, and all five of my children – Jon was 16, Will 14, Matt and Drew 9, and Elizabeth 2. It was a fun day, we had spent the night before at the Hotel Monteleon on Royal and went to the park the next morning. The old oaks were still there as well as Storyland – things I remember as a child . The big feature, however and the reason for the visit, was the carousel. It was, at the time, 91 years old.
“Since 1906 little kids and kids at heart have enjoyed the “flying horses” of City Park’s antique carousel, one of only 100 antique wooden carousels in the country and the last one in Louisiana. The carousel, featuring the masterwork of famed carousel carvers Looff and Carmel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its renovation garnered national attention and praise from the National Historic Preservation Society.”
My mom was so right in her prediction – Elizabeth loved it, again and again and again. I see my mom sitting on the nearby bench watching Elizabeth go around and around. I wondered why she was so intent on and content to just sit there. Now I understand , she was feeling so badly then; there was a yet unknown cancer inside and these were her last days. I look back, as we all sometimes do, with regret. I had no idea that my barely 65 year old mother was that sick and that this trip would be the last one with my 2 year old daughter.
I often go back to that day and relive all that I can to keep the memory alive, but until yesterday, I have not been able to go back to that physical place. After hurricane Katrina, I was so sad that the park had taken on so much water and damage but thanks to the good people of New Orleans, the park is as it was. I was able to see a bit of stress on some of the ancient oaks but I feel certain they are being cared for and will outlive me. Elizabeth was a good sport for me and let me photograph her around the park – we went to the places I remember her going with my mom.
Curiously , the girl operating the carousel saw us and when the last child was gone, asked if I would like a picture of Elizabeth on one of the horses.
With a bit of a blur through the lens, I saw her again and I knew my mom was there , perhaps on the bench, watching.
I perused over my FB page this morning and noticed the great amount of graduation snapshots and moments. It made me think of a newspaper column I did when my twins graduated in 2006. I am posting for you moms – I know how you feel – these moments are truly bittersweet.
Already, the St. Josephs, and gardenias, and many of the magnolias have bloomed. This passage into spring has been hasty. All year I anticipate the bouquets of sweet smelling gardenia and the lemon, clean scent of our state flower and the promise of spring from the amaryllis. They seem to have come and gone, quickly. I suppose I am too busy, I should take more time to insure my memories of spring, for they must last a year.
All of this bounty and burst of beauty coincides with another passage that is brisk and momentary and brings with it much ambiguity of the heart, graduation. Like spring, you try to hold on and capture each moment and experience each event, but like blossoms, it burst and quickly fades. As festive of an occasion as graduation is, it explodes with sentiment and can make a parent’s heart heavy. While we are very proud of this milestone, letting go is difficult. Even as our graduates are donned in mortarboards and flowing gowns, we find ourselves remembering that sweet kiss on a fat cheek and a little hand that reaches for ours. And we can’t forget that hug around the neck that drew us so close to the smell of childhood. There they are with diploma in hand and full of happiness and fulfillment and here we are still trying to hear the little voice that, seemingly a hundred times a day, asked us “Why”. Listening to the baccalaureate speeches and witnessing the final moments of the class of 2006 physically being together, we search for the little one that we might gather up and rock until worries are gone and peaceful sleep lies on their face, we try to find the tiny laugh that comes from the core of their being and touches the heart of ours. Through soppy tears, we will congratulate you and will continue to be there, cheering you on and remembering.
I found this old post , one from the very early days of my blog, and it is so fresh and so focused on what I imagined for this weblog so I decided to repost and refresh 🙂
While I wash the last of the dishes this morning, dishes left from supper, I am listening to Neil Diamond’s Forever in Blue Jeans. For the most part, the house is quiet. I stack the plates smallest to biggest, and arrange the cups somewhat neatly on the drying rack and casually glance at the day ahead. It should be a simple day, a day filled with ordinary stuff and minimal confusion; the kind of day that I love most. For a minute, I think of my mother and how I would sit at the kitchen table when I was a teen and still so bewildered. I’d watch her wash each glass and each plate in a way that was hers and I’d talk and ask questions and she’d answer and it felt so good to be there in that kitchen, in that shelter where my world was turned right side up. Somehow I knew then that I would remember those times and I knew I was recording that image of her as she washed dishes and the way she listened and the world she created for me and all of my adolescent insecurities.
Those big moments in life are necessary and certainly enjoyable, but these little moments that aren’t so noteworthy, are where I find peace and connection. The big moments bring with them so much anticipation that sometimes we are bound by expectation to be disappointed. I rather those moments of spontaneity and surprise, a day when nothing is really on the docket and suddenly Elizabeth comes in with a zinnia for my kitchen vase or I find the first turquoise egg from one of my Americanas, or Neil Diamond comes on the radio and sings Forever in Blue Jeans while I am washing the supper dishes and remembering my mom.
In case you find some garden time today, I hope you do, and if you have a lot of basil by now, you may want to dry some for the winter. I have learned that it should not be tied and bunched like some of the other herbs. I will post the correct way according to my source, Organic Gardening Magazine :
• Don’t tie basil stalks together or hang them to dry as you might other herbs.
• Pinch or snip leaves from the stems and place them on a screen or absorbent towel.
• Stir daily and allow to dry until crackly.
• Store in an airtight container.
Till next time,