My First Mother’s Day Without Ron
"i thank you God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
E. E. Cummings, 1950 (source)
They are always in bloom on Mother's Day. I stand outside on my deck early this morning, a knitted shawl around my shoulders, a mug of tea in my hands, and I marvel at the white daffodils, their yellow faces pointing up to the sun, that manage to bloom every year despite my neglect. Unlike my grandmother, who planted them by the fence on the Mother's Day after Bonnie was born, I do not have a green thumb. For years I told my husband and children never to give me plants for Mother's Day because it was, for anything blooming in a pot, a death sentence.
But my grandmother could make flowers bloom from concrete. The day I brought my infant daughter home was a Mother's Day, and my parents and grandparents descended on my house with cake and dinner and a pot of daffodils. They were, Grandmom told me, "Narcissus Ice Follies." The name meant nothing to me. But now, forty-one years later, I am still greeted by their cheerful faces, the seedlings from the original plant having kept up the heritage of their parent.
I turn to go back inside where it is warmer, my head full of thoughts of Mother's Day past. There is no smell of burnt toast and eggs this morning, no dishes piled in the sink from Ron's attempt to make me breakfast in bed. There is no ill-chosen gift in the wrong size or the wrong color waiting to be opened on the dining room table, no card he would have forgotten to sign still in the Walmart bag. Allen--although he has promised me doughnuts this morning--is still asleep. Darling daughter--who knows me well--has sent me a t-shirt proclaiming, "It's what I do! I read and I know things!" and some brightly colored yarn. Perhaps Dennis, my oldest son, will call later on.
It is my first Mother's Day without Ron. I am missing the smell of burnt toast more than I could have imagined. I am trying to remember what he gave me last year. "Something one of the aids would have gotten," my daughter has reminded me. Ron was long past being able to leave the house by then. I think about sorting through my jewelry box; was it the turquoise earrings Veronica had ordered? Or the butterfly bracelet Phyllis got?
The sight of the daffodils stops me. "White daffodils" my grandmother said before she took the spade she had brought with her and went to plant them, "mean rebirth. They are a good flower for your new baby."
Rebirth. We are in the midst of a pandemic, with people sheltering in their houses and most of us working from home. We do not know how long it will last. But we have hope that, one day soon, the bans on gathering will be lifted. We will meet again for worship and family celebrations. I think of the words of Isaiah 43:2: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with me; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou wilt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." God is still with us.
God is still with me. Ron has been reborn into a new and eternal life. His heart, so damaged by infections and surgeries, was a good heart. A loving heart. A kind heart. He has left his heart with me.
And I, too, am being reborn. No longer the caregiver to a critically-ill man, there are new paths for me to walk. I watch the daffodils lift up their trumpet shaped heads and proclaim, "This is YES!" Yes, to life, yes to beauty, yes to what lies ahead, lifted from the no of sickness and death.
The ears of my ears are awake. The eyes of my eyes are open.
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