Reflected in the pond, the magnolia unfolds its huge, saucer-shaped pink blooms. Planted years ago, it is a bit taller than I am - slow growing, this tree. Quiet, unobtrusive, steadfast - just as she, in whose memory it was planted, was. She’s been gone so long I sometimes wonder what I have left of her. Then I remember...
She chose a Weeping Birch for the front yard, a Flowering Crab, an apple, and a Black Walnut for the back. Her flower beds edged the yard and over the years she grew countless things I can, and some I cannot, remember. Fresh flowers, lovingly arranged, were a part of every holiday or special family occasion. In the cabin at the lake, or any place where we stayed more than one night, there might be a small bouquet of wildflowers. House plants filled the kitchen window. If she could not be outdoors, then she brought some of it in.
She nurtured us as well:
The body needs healthy nourishment - nutritious, made-from-scratch meals, every single day. Fresh fruit is the best thing for snacking. Use as much of the plant or animal as you can - waste nothing. Preserve what you can - for the long winter or the tough times. Risk a little, try new foods and recipes. SHARE your abundance with a neighbor - they will return the favor.
The mind needs stimulation - talk with your family, but more important, LISTEN. Encourage free expression of ideas, hopes, dreams and discussion of issues and events. Read to your children and promote the love of books, an interest in news and a passion for knowledge. Demonstrate creative thinking; dare to express your own view of things even if it is different from another’s point of view.
The spirit needs renewal and revitalization - SEEK moments of peace and quiet to reflect on the greater scope of life. Eliminate excess noise and distraction. Know that you are only one part of the natural world and learn your place in it. Find joy in the small things, awe in the great. Do what you love to do.
Choose your values and value your choices. RESPECT everyone, regardless of age, color, nationality or sex - unless they give you a good reason not to - then steer clear. Learn your manners and use them, they will get you through when nothing else will.
WORK HARD at what needs to be done. If you can’t have what you’d like, then make do with what you have - and be grateful for it. There are always others better off - and worse - than you.
FIND the HUMOR in life and enjoy it to the fullest; laugh ‘til your face turns red and tears run from your eyes.
BE KIND and gentle with all life, but hold your ground when you need to and fight back if necessary. Accept your family and friends for who they are even with their various faults and idiosyncrasies. The good Lord watches over children and fools - we are all one or the other.
One year, when I was away at college, I had no money to buy her a Mothers’ Day card or gift. Instead, I wrote her a poem, which ended with:
Although I am myself, it’s true,
part of what I am, is you.
Now I know - a mother lives on through her children.
Let your father and mother be glad,
let her who bore you rejoice.