Sunday, May 8, 2011


Some of my earliest memories of my mother involve her working in the yard. Cutting the grass. Trimming the prickly ivy bushes in front of our home in the Dalraida neighborhood of Montgomery, Alabama. I remember daffodils in the front beds and in the backyard underneath the tall pines every Spring. And roses. She had rose bushes on the side of the simple brick home on either side of the air conditioner unit.

She spent a lot of time with those bushes. Pruning. Fertilizing. Ridding them of pests that threatened their beauty. She'd cut a bloom or two for me to carry to my teacher, carefully wrapping the stems in a wet paper towel and then over that with aluminum foil. The outside felt cold against my skinny fingers as I held them on the ride to school smelling the sweet fragrance from the blooms.

Everywhere we moved, she had a rose bush of some sort. Some years, my brothers would come home for Mother's Day and bring her a new one, some different color she had mentioned she wanted. I would watch as she planted it, hands digging down into the soil, the dirt covering her fingers and trapped beneath her nails. I didn't understand the notion of planting flowers, of tending to them, of having dirt on your hands.

On Friday, my mom came up to visit for the day and to go to Madalyn's little music thing at school. It wasn't a program, per say, but rather a chance to come to the music room and see what they've been working on all year. Before attending that, we rode to Lowe's to look at flowers. She wanted, of all things, a rose bush, but not just any old rose would do. She was in search of a climbing rose. She was so delighted to find it, and we browsed along looking at all the other blooms and grasses and the like. We found the clearance rack full of little plants that had somehow been neglected and were now available for drastically reduced prices. Of course, my mom wanted to buy me something. She always does. That's just the kind of mom she is. So I picked a couple of things from the clearance selections and some other bright, feathery looking things I knew Madalyn would like.

I haven't planted any flowers in almost three years. When money gets tight, those are the things that go first. No flowers, no fancy make-up or lotions, no new clothes unless they're necessary. But as I walked the rows of colors, I found myself missing the soil. Missing that same disgusting dirt that I used to turn my nose up at in my youth. Wanting to dig my hands into the soil and make the perfect pocket for a little plant for me to tend and fertilize and watch grow. I guess it's just in me, you know.

No rose bushes for me yet. I have one of those no-maintenance knock out varieties that my mother (of course) bought for me for Mother's Day three years ago. That was the last thing I planted. Today, I am off to buy some soil for my pots, and I have been busy refurbishing and making fresh again a couple of resin pots I've had for years. I'll have my hands in the soil today planting my little clearance rack finds, and my mind will be back in time watching Mama tend to the roses.

I love you, Mom.

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