February 8, 2009
In Becca’s recent posting, Sign of Spring http://backyardtransliteration.blogspot.com/2009/01/sign-of-spring.html on her blog http://backyardtransliteration.blogspot.com/ she said she dreaded the spring. I understand her dread. My mother has been dead for sixteen years now and Christmas has never been the same for my sister, my son or for me. Christmas has long been associated with a time of mourning for us not a time of joy. My love for farming and for growing things was instilled in me by my mother. I don’t remember her ever complaining about the work being too hard, the days too long or the sun too hot. My father did much of the heavy farm work so it was left to us, the woman and the children to plant the garden, hoe the weeds, and harvest for canning and freezing in the late summer and autumn.
Spring for me is a time to take a deep breath and begin anew. Spring is a time for planning and for planting. Looking through seed catalogues even the act of running seeds through my fingers is a memory of my mother. We’ll grow tiny sweet bell tomatoes because when I was a child, we ate them over candy. My mother always made sure that there were a few of those planted. Funny, I don’t remember them being served at the table. What I remember is my mother walking back from the garden where my sister and I were resting in the shade. Her skirt was lifted up with her white cotton slip showing and in the basket formed by the cloth of her skirt was a mound of golden yellow tomatoes. When I hear a song or story with a reference to silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun, I think of those sun-kissed tomatoes she gathered for us.
Becca says, “If home is where you keep your stuff, then this is definitely home. And if home is where you spent your childhood, I’m in the right place.” My stuff is in El Paso, my childhood was in Kentucky so which is my home now? Either, or neither? I’m still not sure. Becca, grief has no season but we do still have hope and we have our memories to sustain us and comfort us. Nearly every day, I will think of something I want to tell my mother. There are times I have reached for the phone wanting to call her. There are times I dream of her, clear eyed, loving and strong. The grief will fade but your memories never will. When your memory of childhood awakens in the spring, cherish it and look forward to a glorious spring.