My mother grows beautiful roses in her own yard and she is a volunteer with the Wilson Rose Garden Society. She has her own section of the rose garden to tend to and she takes her duties quite seriously. She had been to the city’s rose garden early this morning to dead-head her section of the rose garden in preparation for the upcoming rose garden show. To encourage constant blooming, you have to cut off the spent roses. The act of removing the spent blooms is called dead-heading.
My mother has always been the gardener in our family; my father is not allowed to participate in the gardening activities, although he doesn’t know this. Every now and then, seemingly unaware that my mother has expressly forbidden him to “mess” with her gardens (flower and vegetable), my dad will attempt to plant something new, move an existing plant to another spot, water something, or sin of all sins, fertilize something.
I can always tell when he has engaged in these activities because when I visit my parents. my mother meets me at the door leading into the garage. After we hug, it begins.
“Step over here for a minute before we go inside and take a look at this flower bed.”
I dutifully follow her to the flower bed on the right corner of the front lawn, under the oak tree. (By the way, generally my dad isn’t home. He likes to take long walks or ride his bike on a daily basis and doesn’t usually come back to the house until after 5:00 pm and even later on summer days.)
“What does that look like to you?”
Both of my parents are fond of trick questions. The trick is to get you to say something that one of them can use to confirm that the other is wrong, has said something wrong, or has done something wrong.
I think carefully, and then venture the safest response possible, “I don’t know.”
It is always better to appear totally stupid and incapable of thought than to give either one of them ammunition to use in their ongoing game of, “I’m right and you’re wrong!”
“It’s a weed. I told your daddy that it was a weed but he thinks it’s a flower and that it’s going to bloom. Anybody could see that it’s a weed. That man doesn’t know a thing about growing anything!”
My mother grew up on a farm and she considers herself an expert on growing all things because of this. My dad grew up in a small town and therefore, according to my mother, knows nothing about growing anything.
“Walk around the house with me and let me show you what he’s done to my verbena. He claims that he didn’t put any fertilizer on it but I know that he did and it’s scorched that plant and I don’t know if I can nurse it back to health.”
“Mama, can we check out the verbena later, I’ve been on the road driving and I have to pee.”
My mother is actually a very good gardener, but she exaggerates my father’s alleged ineptitude. However, he is content to mostly stay out of her gardening affairs and only slips up on occasion. My sister and her husband, Bob, are both avid gardeners and while I’m not in their league, I have a pleasant flower bed out front and roses in the back.
In addition to talking by phone with my mother, I also visited my sister for a few hours this afternoon. Her allergies are giving her a hard time, so I went over to keep her company. We discussed a great book that she had loaned me to read, which I finished last night, called The Pact, by Jodi Picoult. I highly recommend it; I couldn’t put it down. We also watched some really tacky Lifetime movie which we both enjoyed a great deal. Since returning home, I’ve tried to catch up on reading other journals today. The state legislature is back in session and I have been consumed with work for the past few weeks and gotten behind in my journal reading.
As I checked out journals today, I was struck by the consistent theme in several journals of dealing with the loss of a loved one–fathers, mothers, and grandparents. The book that I just read was also about death and loss.
I realize how fortunate I am to still have both of my parents, for all of their continual nonsense and I know that there will come a time when I long for the opportunity to be put in the middle of one of their “choosing sides” debates. All of my grandparents have long passed and I took a few moments to look at the photographs that I have of them in my library. I was particularly close to my paternal grandmother, Viola, and a photograph of her sits on my desk in my home office.
She became seriously ill right after I began law school in 1994. We expected her to die quickly, especially after the doctors had to amputate her legs due to complications from circulatory problems. She was a tall woman, 5′ 10″, and the sight of her small frame after they took her legs broke my heart. Fortunately, she was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s and I don’t believe that she was ever aware of the double amputation. She held on for nearly three years, until I graduated from law school and took the bar exam. She died before I received my bar results but I have no doubt that she heard the joyful shouting that I did at the mailbox on the day that I received the notice that I had passed the bar. I think it was her last gift to me, letting me finish the journey that I started before I had to fully deal with her loss.
I used to visit her grave on occasion when I went to visit my parents in my hometown. I finally stopped going to the cemetery because one day I realized that she was not there, underneath the mounded earth. She was with me, always with me. I realized that I carried her in my heart and all the graveyard held was dust. Sometimes, when I close my eyes and listen carefully, I can almost hear her call my name.
My preference is to embed videos; however, the embed link on YouTube has been diisabled on this video by request of the poster. I found the same video on AOL, but WordPress won’t accept a video link from AOL. So, to hear a really great song, and watch the video, click here. The video is by Brooks and Dunn. The song is called Believe. I find the song moving on a spiritual level and I also think that Ronnie Dunn is so hot when he sings, and he moves me too. What? I’m a middle-aged woman; I need my fantasy life!