The roses I have left are putting on quite a show. All this rain Oklahoma is receiving in April and May makes the garden glad to grow. Birds are singing. Bees are humming, and I saw a baby damselfly this morning on an iris. He or she got away before I took his/her picture.
May is the month of mothers, and, in the Catholic Church, we also honor the Blessed Mother in May and October. That’s why you often see the oldest woman in a parish crowning a statue of Mary during the month of May. It’s considered a true honor and is often done at school masses. The children bring the flowers. It’s a lovely tradition.
Roses, called the queen of the flowers, are always associated with love and Mother’s Day. Mothers, with all their daily sacrifices, definitely deserve their place at the royal table. No one will go to bat for you like your mother. No one on Earth loves you more.
This is not to negate fathers. They are just as important, but different, and May isn’t their month. They can still enjoy the roses though.
As for my mother, I’m fortunate to have her still with me. Twenty-six years ago, on April 29, my mother nearly died in a car accident on Will Rogers Turnpike. She was heading north to Aurora, Missouri, to see her mother, Margaret, who was also making my wedding dress because my wedding day was May 12. After Mom’s accident, dear Margaret, ]not only dropped everything to come take care of her child, she also finished my wedding dress. She moved to Oklahoma as soon as my mom got out of the hospital. Mom couldn’t walk or even care for herself. Margaret spent months cooking and caring for Mom.
I repeat, no one loves you like your mother.
The wedding was all planned and paid for so Bill and I married in a church parlor on May 12. My mom was still in the hospital, so a dear friend, Ray Morrison, videotaped the ceremony. This was when cell phones only made phone calls. We honeymooned in Tulsa where my mom remained in intensive care for a month. Her jaw was wired shut, and the rest of her body put back together with lots of loving care and attention by doctors at St. Francis, known locally as the Pink Palace. Tears rolled down Mom’s cheeks as she watched the video. It was the best we could do.
Forty-three or more surgeries later, she is handicapped, but still living. Yes, forty-three plus.
Perhaps, you wonder how growing roses relates to my mother, but I can’t look at them without thinking of her. My mother’s name is Rose. Both the Rose in my life and those in my garden have been taking it on the chin for quite awhile, but they are also still kicking and manage to remain beautiful as they do it.
Fewer garden roses make me appreciate them all the more. As for my mother, well….
For this Mother’s Day, I’ll plant my mom’s containers again. Because she has trouble getting around and gardening–although she does still live independently–she gardens in pots. I make a nursery run and choose plants for her. It’s fun putting together combinations she enjoys. She is fond of calibrochoas, some petunias and purple fountain grass, for instance. When I wrote for Fiskars, I did a piece on horticultural therapy, and I included my mom and our Mother’s Day planting in the pictures. I also bought her a Double Knockout rose years ago that grows next to her patio. This was before Knockouts had so much trouble with Rose Rosette, and hers is still healthy. It’s blooming beautifully this year. One spring for Mother’s Day, I planted a peony between her house and her neighbor’s. All through the drought and Mom’s multiple surgeries, her neighbor hand watered it. Even when Mom was in the hospital for two summers in a row, her neighbor watered it and watched for the blooms. She felt if she kept it alive Mom would come home. This year that peony bloomed so much that Mom cut the blooms and brought them inside before the rain. She brought ants inside too, but that’s another story for another day.
Garden writers and horticulturalists spend a lot of time answering questions about how to grow a particular plant, or what to do when things go wrong. People often contact me because they want to grow a particular flower their mother, grandmother, father, or grandfather loved. Gardening is really about love. When you grow that rose, peony, iris or tomato loved by someone you love, you are keeping their cherished memory alive.
Both of my grandmothers were amazing gardeners. One was obsessive like me while the other, my maternal grandmother just grew anything she could from plants passed along to her. Neither grandmother had the money to indulge herself with a lavish garden like mine. People gave Margaret cuttings in wet paper towels. She stuck them into the soil, and they grew. As a small child, I thought it was magic. She grew large peonies, a rose or two, and always had gorgeous houseplants. I am terrible with houseplants. Everyone has something they can’t grow.
My paternal grandmother, Juanita, could grow anything, from vegetables to a fantastic red rose that covered one side of her front porch. Under that porch was a swing where I read books on summer afternoons, a glass of iced tea and a slice of German chocolate cake perched on the seat beside me.
My mother never had time to garden much, but she does love her containers. I can’t wait to see what we come up with this year. I’ll take pictures! The more flowers and bright foliage the better. As I look at this very good year for roses, I’ll think of my own Rose. I’m so glad she’s still with me, and we can do things like plant together. She’s watched all of her grandchildren grow into adulthood, and that’s a blessing many don’t receive. I love you Momma. Happy Mother’s Day.