It’s the third day of May.
The purple irises I dug up from your yard are blooming their heads off, as you’d always say. The grass is green and jubilant. Jimmy cannot keep up with it on the mower. Leaves on trees are popping. The lilac bush, generous this year—oh, the fragrance.
As of today, you’ve been gone eight years. Mama, you are missing the most beautiful spring ever. However, we’ve had rains galore, and tornadoes have sent countless people into basements and closets more than once.
When it was time to go to bed, Jimmy turned off the lights and said, “It looks like a bad night for northeast Arkansas.”
Those spring clouds still rumble from west to east. Nothing new for you on that. People have to take cover and wait it out. Lots of lightning. You’ve seen it fork and grow legs over the rice fields. Scary as always. (I know the thunder scared you more than the lightning.)
Just saying nature is alive, and we’re staying awake to the skies.
The goldfinches are back. Gold nuggets, flying. I know you fed every kind of bird. Maybe not the crows, of course. And the white peonies are tall and voluptuous this year. They bring me as much joy as your blue and pink hydrangeas.
This is my birth month and your death month. I don’t know why I said that. Maybe because I never dreamed you’d leave in my favorite month of the year. Also, Mother’s Day is coming soon, you know. We already have roses.
A memory I hold close to my heart is when you would cut roses for us children and pin them to shirts and dresses. It was Mother’s Day. That one act told me it was a very special day for all of us. In a way, we were loving and claiming each other.
Everything I see is budding or bursting forth. Just the perfect month, in my opinion.
As I grew up, you were not big on cards or cakes for birthdays. But when I became an adult, we shared flowers and cuttings from shrubs. I later figured out those gifts last for decades. And if I must move, I’ll dig up my bulbs and take them with me. Not that I’ve moved much in my lifetime.
This spring is a feast for the eyes. I thank you for showing me your love for flowers. I am grateful to have perennials on every side of the house.
Mama, the world is changing. Everyone says so, and people are wearing masks and gloves in order to not pick up a certain virus. If Jimmy goes to the store, he tries to stay 6 feet away from everyone else. The cause is called coronavirus. It’s not just local—people all over the world are dying from this virus. Serious business.
I’m staying home to keep the virus at bay. My comings and goings have come to a standstill. If I didn’t have my flowers, writing, and poetry, I’d be pretty hard-put.
You lived through the Great Depression. People now are trying to live through Coronavirus.
It’s a new thing. But Mama, in spite of the virus, lack of masks, unemployment, children not attending school, and grocery store hassles, nature is amazing. She keeps giving us colorful blooms, busy bluebirds, full moons.
And God. He must know how badly I need the flowers if I am to stay confined to my little area, my house, my yard. I walk around saying hello, hello, hello to my flowers as if they are children. Funny, right? Fun, too.
I am immensely grateful that Grandma, you, and all your sisters loved gardens and flowers. Otherwise, I might not be such a lover of leaves and blooms. Right now, I need them. Leaves, blooms, and Jesus. I’ll make it on that.
Oh, I kept your brown purse.
Before this day is done, I plan to pull it out of the closet, carry it from room to room. I think it’ll help me feel connected with you, despite the fact that you are gone.
Thank you, Mama.
P.S. My poetry books listed below are linked to their Amazon pages. Lights and Shadows in a Nursing Home describes the last twelve years of my relationship with my mother and a journey that many have made after a diagnosis of Dementia, when an individual reaches the stage where loved ones can no longer provide the needed care. In its pages you will find a strong message of hope and heart, through the sadness and the joy of loving kindness expressed. All four of these books make great gifts!
A peony in the yard. Photographed by Pat Durmon, May 1, 2020.