Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I had to work which really wasn’t any big deal because it wasn’t like Ward had thought to take Beav out and help him find something for me and Wally doesn’t have any money. Beav was busy all weekend with his Ultimate Frisbee tournament and Wally was just busy being nineteen. So yeah, there wasn’t a brunch missed or presents that had to wait until late last night. But they did call me while I was at work and even Wally’s friend–I’m electing to nickname Eddie Haskell–wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. Despite a lack of boy prezzies, the Universe gave me the gift of an unscheduled morning as Beav spent the night at Ward’s while Wally was at Eddie’s.
I didn’t bother to sleep in but instead got up after TG left for work at OMGyouhavegottobekiddingme o’clock; puttered around the house and then hit the yard after it was warm enough to forego a jacket and hat. Ms. A has reported to me we are going to have another summer like the last: damp and coolish. I can’t say I’m completely disappointed as it will just mean fewer tomatoes and the possibility of growing giant broccoli. The peas I didn’t think would grow are about three inches tall, too. My hot MILF friend suggested I find a four year old to plant them for me but I didn’t have to go to such extremes after all. Hopefully by the time we are home from Cambodia I will have peas to harvest. Today, I did have radishes, salad greens and spinach to harvest. It was pretty darn exciting to begin separating my little radish plants and discover six ready to eat. It took about five minutes for the serotonin to kick in and a small smile to spread across my face as I pulled the relentless little weeds which have poked their evil little heads up in my garden. I was almost giggling with joy as I separated the radish plants. Usually little jobs like that make me impatient and can lead me down a short path to Frustrationville but today it was satisfying to gently untangle the little plants, which threaten to choke one another, and replant them further apart so they can breathe and grow.
As I was sitting on the ground in the garden, gently pulling apart the plants and contemplating what I was going to do with all that Oregano and delicate French Tarragon, I realized how therapeutic creating my beds and garden had been for me last spring. I think working my hands in the dirt, turning soil, planting and tending my new perennials and shrubs last spring helped me move through the loss of my mother. My gardens aren’t a tribute to her and she didn’t really enjoy gardening all that much. We always had nice flower beds and well tended lawns but that was just what you did. She didn’t spend hours with seed catalogs or plant charts figuring out what would go where. Nor did we have a bounty of flowers to cut and bring into the house or give as gifts or tributes to others. The beds and the lawn were just what you did as part of taking care of a house. I’m not sure where I got this yin to garden and grow things. I’m pretty sure it was born out of the same duty I felt to this house. Only my duty turned to passion. Kismet. And a serendipitous event which probably saved my heart last spring and summer as I moved through the fresh and raw grief of losing a mother. I thought about her all morning as I moved from the garden to the flower beds. She would have enjoyed the salad I was going to make tonight and I know she would have offered suggestions for the tulips I cut and just sort of jammed in small bottles. Twirling her hands over and around them so they were arranged just so because she was gifted like that. Gifted in ways I’ll never be. Thinking about the gifts I didn’t inherit from her made me a little jealous and sad when she was alive. Until recently, remembering them made me feel lonely and a little lost inside. I must confess, when I do sit at the sewing machine if I ask for her guidance the sewing always goes better. Better. Not great. Not even up to a level of Ruth Mediocre. But much better than ripitout and startallover. Perhaps teaching myself how to garden, through trial and error versus classes and reading, has helped assuage the lost feeling because I’ve discovered my own gift, one she didn’t possess. Or even care to possess.
I am a planner but I couldn’t have planned this expansive gift of healing the yard and garden has given me. Nor could I have conceived who happy I would be with a new step-family my father has harvested by simply allowing his heart to grow and open as a result of his own grief.
Once again the Universe has proven to me the heart is limitless and there is always room for one more or three more or in this case about ten more people. Two weeks ago, we went to south Texas for a party celebrating Dad and Marcia’s wedding. What a lovely family he has given us, too. We got to meet, and in a small way, get to know Marcia’s children, grandchildren and her own siblings. It was also a chance for me to get to know Marcia whom my own mother loved very much. We spent most of a day, sitting quietly together in the backyard, a soft breeze cooling the sunshine for us as I asked her question after question about her family and her children and her life. Poor woman must have felt interrogated or like she was having to pass a test or something but really I was just curious and frankly hungry to know this woman who has made my father so deeply happy. I thought Mom’s death was going to be the death of Dad but instead he chose a path of renewal and rebirth. I wanted to become close to the woman who had the ability to do this. Again, hoping this gift of love and inclusion would rub off on me. Dad has become a different person with Marcia. There is a joie de vivre I have never witnessed in him which is what someone who has worked hard all their life should experience in the autumn of life. Another case for the existence of Karma.
The day after TG returned home I accompanied Dad, Marcia and our old family friends on a tour of the Franciscan Missions in South San Antonio. I tagged along behind them snapping pictures and gawking at old stones and icons. Being the only “youngster” on the outing allowed me to observe my father and step-mother. They reminisced about the many other times they had seen these places; each a separate lifetime ago, each respectful of the other’s memory, both secure in the idea they were making a new memory together which neither negates or trumps the past experience. Which made me realize it’s ok to love–and I mean love–Marcia in that place I had my own mother. It’s not replacing my mother or her memory but just adding to my heart.