Saturday, January 10, 2009


Last week at church my KC's class learned about a tradition within our faith called the flower communion. As part of this, every participant received a flower at the end of class. He chose a lovely yellow rose and it has somewhat amazingly stayed alive all week long on the altar in our kitchen. As I think on this further, I suspect there is a direct correlation here with how cold our house is!

However yellow roses for me always signify remembrance. I don't know if that is their "official" meaning. I know that all manner of meanings have been ascribed to a wide variety of flowers. It was a big thing in victorian times to send messages to a lover strictly by the choice of flowers in the bouquet. But this isn't necessarily official; it is just that yellow roses are remembering flowers for me.

And this month my mind is drawn often to my late mother in law. January was her birth month. She was a nurturer. From the first time I met her, she had a quiet way of making me feel not just at home, but at ease. There was a sense of belonging without expection, which is very different from the feelings in my home growing up. My life was full of expectations and while I don't think I really resented that,but I knew I loved the feeling of just "being" when I went to Kirsty's house. She was so talented with her hands. I don't think I ever saw a craft she hadn't tried and mastered. Crochet, knitting, cross stitch, needlepoint, ceramics, sewing. She did it all beautifully.And she liked sharing those skills, even with a teen who hadn't a whole lot of creative juices in her body. I remember her spending hours helping me learn to crochet.

She grew gardens like nobodies business. I swear she looked at a plant and it said "how high do you want me to grow?" Her gardens outside were always started from seed and were a blaze of beautiful color all season long. Inside, she had zillions of houseplants and they thrived. She still takes care of plants. Whatever we plant at her grave grows twice as large and strong as any of the same plants on the other graves we tend.

The thing I loved about her the most though was the fact that she loved my son unconditionally. Chet is a very different kind of person. He wasn't easy as a child. We thought his differences were just the result of deprivation in the orphanage; adjustments to a new world and a new family, and ill health. It wasn't till long after she died, that Chet's diagnosis of aspergers was revealed. But none of that mattered to her. While my father in law has always gotten visibly annoyed by Chet, my mother in law never did. She always saw through all the "stuff" to the essential goodness of his spirit. And he loved her fiercely in return.

She died far too young, claimed by cancer. If she had a failing, it was a long time addiction to cigarettes and they played a role in taking her from us. She never knew my other children, and I mourn that. I know what a gift her love would have been to them, and the joy she would have found in them. My Robbie loves to garden and she would have shared garden tips with him. KC is my artist and so many projects would have been made together. She would have loved Lissa's energies and excited explorations of her world.

There are times when I am doing something with the kids and I can swear that I feel her presence. Fleeting, it is like feeling a smile. That sounds dorky but I can't think of a better way to describe it. It is a paler version of the feeling I had when she was here, but it still feels good. And I'll bet she has some amazing gardens in the summerlands!

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