I begin the day thinking of my own care-worn mother; A woman who would no sooner see any of her six children leave the house under fed or clothed than share an unkind word about her friends. I smile at the decorative grass in my planters long silky fronds left over and blond now from the winter’s beating. I am reminded of her hair sandblasted with Lady-Clairol blond, denying quarter to any gray hairs with a perfectly coifed do. My mother; the woman who demanded to be cremated because no one would get her eyebrows penciled to her liking. It is late morning and I set about filling my planters with the newbies I started last March. I survey my deck and the pots ragged with last year’s plants – dead and begging. I move in a flurry of activity and by lunch I’ve revived the clay and plastic pots with new life. With the sun on my face I smile at the lobelia and alyssum – colorful children in what was once a barren playground. After lunch I am back, moving about the yard with purpose, transplanting the rhododendrons – temporarily until I can find the proper high-acid spot in my yard. The petunias are next – small, single rooted starters – I vow to not trouble with seeding new plants next year as the Amish up the road do a much better job. I move to the front garden and snip the dwarf hyacinth hidden by the red and yellow tulips – they’ll serve better inside where I can see them. I transplant the rudebeckia and purple cone flower – tall plants that scream for attention will do fine for drivers on my road looking for color. I think of my son who is in the throes of decision making and I ache knowing I cannot help. It is a lesson I have learned recently; to stand on the sidelines comforted only by my cloak of happiness or uneasiness as my child grows. And this mother’s day I am happy that he has the option to do just that. Mother’s days are hard. He’s out on “maneuvers” so I doubt he will call. My own mother would have subtly employed vague implications of fault that would make me certain not to forget her day. With no siblings to outdo, my son was always tough to guilt. My niece, older and a mother herself, has sent chocolate-covered strawberries. I am moved to tears at the thought of being a surrogate for my baby sister who died 18 years ago. My niece tells me I have been the mother she lost and I am filled with a cold-day fireplace warmth as I move my snipers, trowel and buckets of fresh potting soil around the house settling on a planter that held last summer’s wave petunias. I put in the paltry starters with a prayer that they do well with the day’s sun to warm the cold soil in the old rusted urn. It is then I spot the shoe, my son’s old work boot that decorated the deck last summer and now, after filling it with fresh potting mix, will be host to a purple-blue clump of lobelia. I tie the ragged laces to hold the tongue upright – keeping water from running off too quickly. He is everywhere I look this mother’s day; the legs of the Captain America figurine found in the soil last summer sliced off at the waist. I punch the legs into the soil of a revived planter – unwilling to throw the last piece of him away. He is my lesson in love. I have come to love someone more than myself – scary at first but the growth in such a venture is phenomenal. I am better because of him; more nervous and yes, gray but better at patience, compassion and giving. The sun is setting as I pour a glass of wine and survey my handiwork; the purples, pinks and yellows – neat as a bathed child, hair smoothed back with water and lotion and no dirt in any crevice. The phone rings – it is my son.
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