May is a bittersweet time for me.
Spring is still around, the dogwood outside my office holding on to its pink petals, the lilac bush’s sweet smell of nostalgia reminding me why I planted it by the front door.
The daffodils are waning, but the clematis is busting with buds and the periwinkle irises will pop in the next couple of weeks. One bachelor button is showing off its feathery purple fronds, about 50 waiting to bust open right beside it.
The pink and white bleeding hearts wave at me as I make my daily pilgrimage to the trash and recycling bins. I’ll soon smell the sweet scent from the lilies of the valley that surround my deck, joining the Solomon’s seal and columbine, the daintiest part of my garden.
I hope to have two blooms this year on the red poppy that grows beside the lilac bush. My hostas are multiplying like crazy as are the may apples that skirt the pear tree that has already lost its showy, if stinky, blooms.
May will always be about flowers for me.
Mom’s birthday was May 5th. I only ever remember giving her flowers and womanpower to get them in the ground. She didn’t want fancy flowers to put it in a vase (the cat would’ve knocked it over anyway). She wanted begonias and marigolds. She wanted butterfly bushes and coneflower. She wanted #AllTheFlowers. She was on her knees with her hands in the dirt and I was there right beside her.
It’s all she ever wanted for Mother’s Day. Strangely, it’s all I want for Mother’s Day too: flowers and time spent with my kids outside with the sun on our skin and dirt under our fingernails.
I am a mosaic of emotions in May. My mom died 16 years ago and I miss her every day, more so these last several years than any time since right after she died. I wish she’d been here to give me advice, tell me I could come home, remind me of what a badass I am and that I come from badass stock. I wish we could walk around my yard and chatter about what flowers would look good in the back corner under the crabapple tree. I wish she were here to see her grandchildren with grass stains on their knees and dirt in their hair.
Mom gave me a tiny snowball bush as a housewarming present when we bought our old house. The yard was blessed with rich, dark soil, unique for my area. When we moved 5 years later the snowball bush was taller than me, too large to transplant to the new house. I had to leave it behind.
I drive by the old house almost every day and marvel at how 15 years later, that snowball bush is still thriving, still bringing beauty into the world. There is no metaphor more befitting my mother.
My mom’s gravestone reads in part, “The music is gone but the melody remains.”
Every day, Mom, flower to flower.