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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

After(math) of Mother’s Day

By this afternoon I’m deep into recovery from Mother’s Day. This year I armed myself with flowering plants and an unruly flower bed. I dedicated time to new growth, pinks and reds. I’m not a gardener. I plant flowers twice a year, in spring and fall. But  planting seemed like a good distraction for the afternoon, especially after returning from church where I sat near mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and children. Dressed and dressed in shades of pink, reds, and  light greens. I wore dusty blue.

By the afternoon I received calls from my children and grandchildren who live on the opposite coast. Mostly the conversations were day-to-day.Good to hear their voices, even see their faces on a screen.  The grandchildren along with my son were preparing breakfast for their mother. Mother’s Day Breakfast. With my daughter, we talked about the uncomfortable reality of our physical distance, hers and mine. Not a new subject. An ache in our hearts. We talked ourselves out before she had to tend to her wife who had lost her mother a few years ago. Sad and more sad. They decided to hike where they could see the city. It was an unusually  clear day.

I surveyed the weeds, began to dig and pull. Then one by one took the new plants and placed them in dirt. Uneven spacing. Not random. In not enough time, I completed the task. After watering, I stood back and admired the blend of colors. I know how beauty works its way in. I thought to take a picture but then didn’t. Then my mind began to make leaps that spiraled down and around.

The beloved rose bush, Nellie’s Roses: dead.( I still have a small jar with petals saved after 10 years, the scent of blooms.) The house where I raised my children: gone.  (Torn down so the old neighbors could have more yard.) My former husband: dead. My mother: dead. No roots. Brothers: occupied. Few relatives. And so it went…by dinner I could barely eat.

I said to myself: Move into gratitude, breathe, welcome in everything, move the body, savor the spring berries,the pineapple, write, submit work, go to the yoga mat, the meditation cushion. Read Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye, Thirst by Mary Oliver, Green Apples by Ruth Stone.   Every single thing works and then nothing works.

An hour ago I walked by the flower bed. I don’t even know then names of the flowers I planted. Oh yes, some marigolds. The others I don’t know. But they have taken hold and are standing upright. Bright. Offering all that they have to offer and soothing all that they can soothe.

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