MOM’S THE WORD
We live in the house that once belonged to my in-laws, so my husband has been tending the gardens here since 1978. Every spring he cleaned up after the winter’s mess, and pruned, and weeded, and planted a few more perennials, and filled in the empty spaces with a few annuals. He would always tell his mother to let the flowers grow, and to not add anything else. Of course, she never listened and she spent more than one evening going out with her neighbour Shirley to “just pick up a few little plants”. That’s how the tulips ended up in the garden. Well, once they were discovered, Ray pulled them out, and that was the end of it, or so he thought.
Patricia passed away July 11, 1996, it was sudden, and it shocked us all. We really thought she was invincible. She grew up in an orphanage in St. John’s NF, moved to Moncton at age 18 as an immigrant to Canada, married a man she met when his sister married her brother, and had 6 children, and cared for countless others as “Nana Pat”. She survived a brain tumour and surgery that took her sense of smell and the sight in one eye. She loved large and shared her gifts of baking with everyone. So, it was no surprise when in the spring the year after she passed away, a single tulip showed itself, and bloomed just before Mother’s Day. We cried at seeing it that first year, and it has survived and flourished each year since, reminding us of that special woman.
My mother, Rosamond, passed away August 27, 2009. Her passing was expected, and she spent the last 3 weeks of her life in hospital. We thought she was invincible. She was a Nurse, and the mother of 3. She took correspondence courses to renew her nursing certificate, and when my parents divorced after 26 years of marriage, she worked as an outport nurse in northern Newfoundland. She had lived with cancer for 27 years, having a mastectomy, and chemo, and then more surgery on the site of her first. She had bone cancer, and though she had pain, she never took anything stronger than Advil, because “she wanted the strong stuff to work when she really needed it”. She loved large and shared her gift of hospitality with everyone. When we found out in the spring of that year that the Cancer was “more significant”, she made the trip to Moncton from Newfoundland and we were able to make some happy memories. A friend gave us a rose bush to plant in our garden to honour her. We did, and I took a picture of her with it. The spring after she passed away, that rose bush was dead too.
So, what do these two stories tell us? For me, it’s that we should focus on life, and to be open to signs that connect us to others. I have a picture of my mother with a rose bush, but not of my mother in law with the tulips. One plant that was never meant to survive continued to grow, and one that was planted with the intention to grow did not.
I have lived in this house with both women, and their spirits are here in every place I look, and in the way Ray and I love our family (both blood and “adopted” ones) and friends. We honour their memories by welcoming others and sharing food at our table and giving of ourselves. I have been blessed with knowing these two wonderful women, and I will continue to use the lessons that they taught me. Anyone can be a “mom” to another, it is not gender specific, it’s about loving and caring for another. In fact, Ray is much more of a “mother hen” than I am. If you have someone special in your life you has guided you, and loved you, take a minute and tell them so.
Think.Grow.Inspire.Friday, and everyday.
Here are Michelle's other Weekly Think.Grow.Inspire.Friday columns: