If you happened to be walking down Eighth Street North after the rains on Thursday, chances are around the 800 block on the right side of the street you would have noticed the dogwood draped in wisteria, both in full bloom.
And, if you wandered further in that neighborhood, you might have happened upon a mature camellia, the ground around it strewn with an improbably thick carpet of wilting red blooms. Lush and dense like the velvet used to make the robe of a French king.
Nearby a car parked under a flowering cherry, its blooms dislodged by the rains, appeared to be covered in a pink frost.
Suddenly spring is all around us.
On a gloomy morning earlier in the week, I went out to my mother’s house to check on the plants my sister, Tanner, started in the greenhouse while she was here with mother in her final weeks. The house, normally humming with activity, was ghostly quiet.
I opened the gate to her kitty garden and went in. A concept preposterous in the larger world seemed perfectly normal in Mother’s universe.
The two dogwoods were in bloom. A moss-covered stone planter, once a fountain from which water flowed from a cat’s mouth, was filled with purple pansies. Red camellias here, as well. This garden in all its glory is an explosion of reds. Not one shred of pink. For my mother, pink was a fingernail scraping a chalkboard. She would not tolerate it.
The loss of a mother. It doesn’t matter if you have weeks, even months to get used to the idea. Or if she and you and your siblings have said all you can think of to say to one another. Or if everyone, the one departing included, is at peace with the inevitable. Even if you’re blessed to have all this, as we were, the loss of a mother leaves an unfillable void.
A friend wrote, one of the many heartwarming expressions of solace and appreciation for my mother we received, he wrote that it was a long time before he didn’t think of his departed mother every day.
Right now I can’t imagine that day ever coming.
Enclosed in that friend’s letter was a check for $92 — a dollar for each year my mother lived — along with instructions to use the money to plant a tree in her honor. We all should be so lucky as to have such a memorial.
Another friend wrote: “While saddened for your loss, I enjoyed reading about your mother … On a positive note, our third grandchild was born March 3. Life continues.”
Perhaps there is no better illustration of this than spring, when Mother Nature dons new finery, fills the air with an elysian fragrance and reminds us, in the loudest voice she can muster, that life indeed does continue.
Birney Imes ([email protected]) is the former publisher of The Dispatch.