Friday, April 29, 2011

the bloom of doom

I'm bummed out---feel like garbage....and it's all because a flower is starting to bloom for the very first time in my garden. It doesn't make sense, but I will explain.

No doubt I have mentioned that I have a "Memorial Garden" in my yard--a special area where I have one plant or item to represent everyone I know who has died, that I actually cared about. The center point is a North Star pie cherry tree, for a baby I lost in my fourth month of pregnancy. Under the tree is a nice concrete bench. That's for my brother, Lloyd, who cared more for structures than flowers. On the south side of the bench is a small "dry creek bed" representing Hubert VanSlyke and the property my family bought from them and where Bob and I built our house. The property is prominently marked by a long dry creek bed, (plus, I hit a boulder when I was planting in that area and said, "Hey....Hubert!") Surrrounding these main features are wild flowers for Linda Skaggs a dear friend who died young from an extremely aggresive cancer, peonies for Iliene VanSlyke and Chad's grandmother, a plant that has four-leaf clover-type leaves on it for Jim Sawyer (ISWNE--ashes left in Ireland,) hollyhocks for my Grandma and Grandpa McCleary, (my mother always had to keep the hollyhocks separate at home, so as not to cross pollinate and destroy "the original" Foster flowers), a nicely shaped lilac bush for Barbee and Maude Martin, and, *chuckle*, still looking for a plant that looks similar to marijuana for my Aunt Marilyn...funny family story there. It's probably sacrilege, but I confess, I buried my dog, Shasta, there and planted Shasta Daises, and also...Max....who was an exceptional cat.

Whether my mother was sentimental, or she just liked the whole genealogy, grave hunting, or dead-people-identification and remembrance idea, I don't know. I never asked. But she loved to bring people by just to see it, and have me give them the tour of what plant was for what person and why.

Well, that became a dilemma for me, when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and I had to think about the fact that someday soon, though I hadn't even considered it yet, I would be planting a flower for my Mama.

Best way to jerk myself out of an emotional swoon was to begin to think practically. Obviously, the plant would be her very favorite, the iris. She had (has) every color one would ever want, and delighted in planting even more different ones whenever she had opportunity.

I first thought of bringing a purple iris from their house to remind me of home, (she has them there by the gross), but I decided I would rather get something extra special for iris she had never seen, and something that would make her proud and impressed. So, through catalog after catalog, I finally chose what I considered "the perfect iris." I can't remember the name, but it's pink---the color of cotton candy, (she could never have enough), and super-ruffly, like the dresses she always sewed for me and my girls. I thought it was a fine choice.

My next dilemma was when to plant it. Would planting it now be "jumping the gun?" Planting the flower "before the deed was done?" Then again, iris take two years to bloom.after planting. And the truth of the matter was, I wanted to share it with Mom. I wanted her to see what special iris I had picked just for her. So, I thought "Whatever" about whether it was the "right" thing to do or not, and two years ago I planted it. Two years have passed in a blink. And I am shocked to is beginning to bud. As the days pass the bud is getting bigger, and I am getting more and more upset. It's really pretty stupid---it's a plant for heaven's sake. But just like the first time you look at someone's tombstone and say, "Wow. They're really dead," I look at that bud in the Memorial Garden and know, "Wow. She's really going to die!" And it's not going to be so very long from now, either. So this plant has been the cause of much suffering in my heart lately---self-inflicted sorrow, I guess.

At first, when I was passing through the yard and happened to glance at the iris, I saw the bud begin to swell and my bottom lip began to tremble. Now I can almost see the very top where the petal color will soon show and I just want to run out there and tape it shut and say, "No! Don't bloom yet! I'm not ready! I can't do this yet!"

I forced myself to look again tonight and there are now two buds swelling and the plant is healthy and strong. Mom is bound to her wheelchair now and the ground is soft, so I know I can't bring her up to to see it. There's no other way, but for me to wait until it blooms, cut it, and take it to her. And I'm not sure I can do that. To me, it will be like handing her a beautiful flower and saying, "Well, Mom....your flower is blooming in the garden. You can go now." My heart is broken and that darn bud just gets bigger and healthier every day!! Never have a wished a plant to just die, but sometimes I do now. (Of course, that would be painful for me in a different way, too.) Part of me is excited to see if the bloom will be as spectacular as I hope....and part of me wants to be angry, rip it to shreds, and cry.

But what would Mama want? I think she would want me to let it bloom fully, pick it, take it to her, and show her what I have planted for her. Sigh. It may kill me to do it, but that's life----"A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted."

Heaven must be a wonderful place..... where people do not die!

Will post a photo of the flower soon. :(

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