Mom, Kalee & flowers (2)

Mama loved her flowers! Didn’t matter where we lived or how busy she was (with cleaning, laundry, cooking, nursing, and teaching 12 kids, of course she was busy!), she planted flowers. From the time I remember, we always lived in rural areas, and she had room to plant gardens and flowers. Planting a garden was important because we ate what we raised, but her beautiful flowers were important to her.

As soon as the first hint of spring appeared she was outside working, preparing the earth for her plants and looking for the first sight of green peeping through the ground. To her delight, crocus, jonquils, wood hyacinth, and grape hyacinth often appeared early enough to bloom through snow covered ground. Bright yellow forsythias and the red fire bush were among the first bloomers and brought color to the drab winter gray. Some bulbs were put into the ground in the fall so spring brought tulips, lilies, irises and a variety of hyacinths and daffodil blooms. Others were planted in the spring, like dahlias, cannas, begonias, and gladiolas.

After the danger of frost, Mom planted her annual seeds. A variety of zinnias, marigolds, cosmos (Dad’s favorite), periwinkle, bachelor’s button, bells of Ireland, and many other varieties grew in her flower beds for the butterflies and birds to enjoy. Then there were her roses, flowering shrubs and trees which bloomed every year. Two of my favorite flowers were the bleeding heart and the sweet pea. One of my sisters dipped a stalk of bells of Ireland in wax, kept it in the refrigerator, and on Sundays wore the waxed flower band in her hair. It looked so beautiful in her brunet waves.

I’ve often wondered why Mom had to raise flowers. It takes a lot of work to maintain them, especially the flower beds she made. She put her heart and soul into loving God, loving her husband, raising her children, and in her flowers. Her life was not easy. It isn’t easy to bear that many children and daily care for their needs. It isn’t easy to sew their clothes, raise their food, nurse their illnesses, and be their counselor, lawyer, teacher and housekeeper. She did all that and more. However, she always had time for flowers, inside and outside the house.

Perhaps everything she did was for her husband and her children, but her flowers were for her. But then again, maybe that was for us, too. I can imagine her praying for us kids as she pulled weeds and cultivated the ground around her plants. Maybe she thought of how to guide her family in correcting character flaws as she inspected blossoms for insect damage. She could have been considering how to help her children develop their talents as she applied plant food to encourage her blooms to reach the fullest growth and beauty. As she caressed each petal and gazed at each variety of blooms, she might have thought of the differences in the abilities, demeanors, appearances and temperaments of each of her children.

I wish I had questioned her about the thoughts and feelings she had when she worked in her flowers. I know she loved beauty, and she considered inner beauty more important than outer beauty. She not only taught her kids the importance of living right, but she lived with such a loving attitude that she was beloved in our community. I plant flowers in my garden, and I pray to have a loving attitude like my mama had.

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