My mom loved gardening. I vividly remember playing outside, as a child, during summer weekends, watching my mom hunched over her various flower beds with her blue and white cowboy-style bandanna tied around her head. She would be weeding or transplanting new flowers. There would be containers of near fluorescent marigolds, pansies or some other colorful summer flower. One house we lived in there was a stone wall in front of our house and my mom and planted rows of bright orange tiger lilies all along it. When I got home from riding my bike somewhere I could see the brightness from way down the street. Those flowers were like a landing strip for my bike. Out of all the flowers my mom loved though, the one she had to buy every year were geraniums. Early summer always meant there would be pots of red blooms decorating our porch or front steps. It couldn’t be white or pink. They always had to be a deep rich red color. I must admit I’ve always loved the contrast between the red flowers and the verdant green stems and leaves.
So, the other day I was missing her like crazy so I decided to go to Wentworth Gardens in Rollinsford, New Hampshire. It is a massive complex with endlessly long greenhouses and a gorgeous outdoor space filled with bushes, trees, and other flowering plants. My mom and I went there the first spring we lived in Maine and she loved it. It’s such a wonderful memory I have of her, seeing that gardening spark come alive again in her eyes again. I spent a good amount of time just walking around looking at all the flowering plants. Then I spotted the geraniums and a lump immediately formed in my throat. I made my way towards them and as I touched one of the blooms I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and I swallowed hard and took some deep breaths trying to compose myself. I didn’t want to have a full-on meltdown in public. I knew what I had to do though, and I’m sure you have figured it out as well. I bought three deep red geraniums and planted them in a large pot that sits on my porch. Sitting on the porch and transplanting them to their new home gave me a moment where I felt close to my mom again. That was a nice feeling to have when, for the most part, she feels so far away from me. Now, throughout the summer, when I see those flowers, I’ll smile because I know she’ll have the same look on her face when she looks down and sees them.
I feel hollow.
The foundation of my life is gone.
Unstable ground is what I
Unsure of who I am.
Unsure of where to go.
Unsure of everything.
I try to move forward,
But my gait is unsteady
And I fear falling
With no one here to catch me
Before I hit the ground.
At some point forward movement
Will become necessary.
I know it is what she
Would want for me.
But for now, I sit trying to
Fill this aching emptiness
With memories of happier times
With my mother.
Childhood memories have the strength
Sparkling, bright, and untainted.
But don’t get hypnotized by the brilliance
Memories have many facets
And one can get lost very easily
In the past.
Our house sits empty now
We’ve moved on but it has not.
Remaining on the hill
Where it was built.
Dark windows peer out
At the night.
It’s become a warehouse
Longing to collect more.
Today is the 8th anniversary of my father’s death. It’s a hard day for me but as the years have passed it has gotten slightly easier. I have so many memories of him but for some reason one is resonating with me the most today. This is for him.
I sit across from him
Watching him struggle to find words
That are hiding from him.
It’s painful seeing him struggle to
search for something that was once so easy to find.
Mastery of words was his strength and now
The disease has robbed him of that.
This loss has weakened him in a way that
Makes it hard for me to recognize him.
And that’s what hurts the most.
My father sits across from me
But my dad is gone.
Losing my dad was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. But because of his Alzheimer’s I truly feel like I lost him the summer before he passed. When I think of my dad, I see a man who loved words and could use them so eloquently and express himself so well. In the late stages of the disease, he lost his ability to think of the words he wanted to say. He would just sit there with this determined look on his face, wanting to think of the word so badly. I never knew if I should tell him the word or let him try to think of it himself. Perhaps that’s why this memory is so strong this year. As I’ve mentioned before I’m having a tough time with my stuttering right now. I’m having as much trouble saying words as he did trying to think of them. Man, this feels so awkward to post this on my dad’s anniversary but I think it’s because I’m laying my soul out there for all the blogosphere to see. And it’s absolutely terrifying and I think my dad would be really proud of me for taking this step.