I’m all about early shopping.
Birthdays, holidays, unspecified and random “Gift Hug” days throughout the year… They’re all good! I even keep a small reserve of gifts in my office to assure I have something ready for the inevitable gift-giving occasion that’s slipped my mind.
Right now, I’m sure a lot of folks have Valentine’s Day on the brain. Let’s not get into that. It’s too close now, anyway, to have fun with that one. (Rushing = Not fun!) So forget heart candies and chocolates and wine. The time has come for the next biggest dining-out holiday of the year to come to the forefront. That’s right:
I’m talking about Mother’s Day.
And what, you might ask, got me thinking so soon about the single most important revenue occasion for the floral industry?
Well, flowers, actually.
I was reorganizing and filtering through my phone contacts the other morning to cleanse my digital self of unnecessary informational baggage when I noticed my mother’s phone number didn’t have a photo attached to it. My phone of last summer—a Samsung Convoy flip phone which I adored and which now belongs to my father because, apparently, he adored it, too—was emptied of pictures prior to mailing it to its new owner. (Yes… I made the tragic mistake of forgetting to transfer the data before resetting it. Lesson learned, people. Lesson learned.)
So, here I was on a beautiful, subzero Minnesota morning, sitting at my dining table with a steaming mug of coffee clutched in my hands, staring at a very limited selection of images from which to choose from to select as the embodiment of my beloved mother who lives too far away from me to justify waiting for the next photo-op to assign her a Caller ID image.
I skimmed through the albums: my hubby in all his handsomeness, my siblings’ smiling faces, my pets—two rabbits, one cat—napping in various locations of sunshine around the house; my Halloween outdoor decorating adventures; the Budweiser Clydesdales when they came to Canterbury park last summer; and countless photographs of landscapes and nature-things that, simply, make me happy.
Then I saw it. The perfect picture…
Pretty, tiny pink posies in full bloom surrounded by happy, buzzy bumblebees.
I examined the image, remembering when I snapped it…
It had been a warm summer’s afternoon. I was returning from my daily round to our across-the-street mailbox and had to pass through a freeway of bees to get back to the house. And the bees were on a serious mission. I could almost hear them chant as they zipped around me, around trees, stumbling their rotund little bodies through the air toward the masses of pink flowers blossoming on the bushes beside our front door: “Must get pol-len, must get pol-len, must get pol-len…”
They bounced in the air with a certain lack of grace which ebbed as poetic, like those little dogs that are so ugly they’re cute. As I stood watching the bees I found myself laughing. The scene was comical… and also a little unnerving. Those bees were intense. Super intense. They had this crazed look in their multi-faceted eyes (or, at least, I imagined they did). Nothing could deter those little workers. Not even a human being a ga-zillion times their size and weight (and armed with a rolled newspaper, I might add).
They were each 0.05 fuzzy, buzzy, black and yellow insect-y, half-inch-long grams of pure determination.
Then there were the flowers.
Ahh, the flowers. They were pretty. So pretty. Their brightness and cheer contrasted with the bees’ dark, harried, noisy intensity. But, I wasn’t to be fooled: the flowers were determined, too, in their own way.
Without moving they threw their delicate perfumes into the breeze (what a trick!), enchanting the masses of bees and butterflies and birds and, yes, even my insensitive human nose, to “Come hither” and linger just a bit, ogle just a little while, enjoy the sunshine just a second longer.
The flowers, half the size of the bees, grew in clusters of hundreds, each individual posy a tiny five-point magenta star bursting open and jutting forth from the crowd, each one a part of the magnificent whole but worthy of individual respect and admiration.
Together, they encapsulate how I feel about my mommy. (Yes, I said it: my MOMMY.) So, it was settled:
I chose the photograph of the bees and flowers as a perfect representation of my mother.
Because the bees are relentless and downright brave. They march (or, rather, buzz) onward without measuring the distance yet to travel. They keep stern focus on their goal, a mantra of commitment repeating in their heads, yet still maintain the ability to make me laugh. They have a grace about them—not a perfect one, but one that is so human, so real, interrupted by trial and error and stumbling and tripping and getting up and going on and making a good show of it while looking good doing it.
At the end of their labor the bees have gained what they have come for: pollen. And, back in the comfort of their home, they will once again toil to turn the pollen to life-sustaining honey.
The bees are symbolic of hard work and sweet reward.
And the flowers?
They’re pretty, dainty, pink, feminine and, like my mother in particular, they’re petite. They make me happy looking at them (even pictures of them!). They make the world happy by existing. They smell nice. They’re encouraging—“Come hither!” they call!—all while not being forceful; suddenly you’ve found yourself stopped beside them, following their command, without realizing you’ve been commanded. There is suavity to that, strategy, a softness that is still yet firm; the flowers instill a penetrating desire to obey without ever demanding it.
And—heck!—flowers are just flippin’ nice to have around.
The flowers are ambassadors of both gentleness and strength wrapped in robes of royalty.
So, there you have it. That’s my mother in a six-megapixel shell.
She makes me happy, makes me proud, makes me want to work harder, appreciate life more, do better, push through it, and love stronger.
But those are only words to describe the photograph. This is the picture I see:
I rose from bed especially early one school morning and sat before the computer screen in a tired daze. It was my sophomore year of high school, 1998, and I had to finish writing a many-page Psychology report due that day. I’d been working on it for weeks but, even back then, I was a writer. I had this disgusting obsession to make my paragraphs and words flow perfectly. And, now, hours away from deadline, I still had so much left to do. I was exhausted.
That’s when Mommy came into the computer room. She didn’t say anything—I didn’t even hear her come in—and set a mug of hot tea on the table beside me. She stood next to me for a moment, her hips to my shoulder, and gave me a little shoulder-squeeze hug. I admit: I let fall a few tears of appreciation. She squeezed me again then left me alone to take care of business. No “Are you sure you’ll be ready for school on time?” No “Why didn’t you finish this sooner?” No reprimand; no reminders, doubts, or worries conveyed; no lingering, no fussing, no fidgeting or tidying of menial objects around the room to offhandedly survey my progress.
Just tea. And Mommy. And that was all I needed.
There has and will continue to be a number of memorable snippets like that which involve me and my mommy, each just a few frames in my life’s motion picture that I rewind and replay and rewind and replay and rewind and replay. They are my favorite scenes and, luckily, unlike real film, they’ll never wear out.
So, as May and that blossoming season we call “spring” creeps ever closer, I encourage you to take to the streets (or to the gardens) and find what inspires thoughts of your own mother or motherly loved one. When you find that perfect thing—whether it be an image, a memory, an object, or a place—I further encourage you to dwell on it. Take a moment to remember. Not with an affectionate sigh or with a passing glance of admiration, but with quietness and focus, as go the careful lingerings of bumblebees to blossoms.