Of Flowers and Whiskey Sours


Lots of moms will receive flowers today.

I received flowers today.

My gorgeous Sam bought me a bouquet which he said he chose, because it had a lot of yellow and orange flowers in it, my favorite flower colors. He said he wished it hadn’t included the three pink flowers. He knows I’m not a pink-girl.

And the card said, “For Mommy.” Did I mention he’s seventeen? I am besotted.

I didn’t send my mom flowers. I could have and maybe I should have, but it’s a little like sending coals to Newcastle, as they say. She is already surrounded by flowers in a magnificent garden as lovingly tended as that of any stately home.

Thanks to Donna and Jim, mom’s windows look out on a riot of azaleas and rhododendrons, hardy daffodils and delicate nasturtiums, crimson bleeding hearts and pristine white peonies. And roses, roses of every hue and size and scent, and with names like Elizabeth and Anne and Diana, a feast for the senses and a history lesson to boot. How perfect for our mom.

My sister inherited mom’s love of flowers and skill at gardening, and in those passions, certainly married her kindred soul. When we lived in Virginia, I often called on Jim’s expertise in a desperate attempt to nurture not just my woeful garden but my latent gardening instincts. Surely, I slightly anxiously adjured, my mother’s extraordinary gardening genes must be in me somewhere just waiting to be revealed. Patiently and with good humor, Jim delineated beds, suggested plants and provided transplants from his own gardens. He instructed and encouraged my least improvement.

His generosity was never matched by any success.

My garden stubbornly refused to respond to my feckless efforts, and when we moved, remained a haphazard collection of abused plants and unrealized potential.

Did I mention I’m a really good cook? My sweet mom appreciates that skill, too.

Last summer, Sam traveled to Virginia and got to stay at the farm of our friend Sydney’s parents. This gorgeous riverside property is where she and Sean were married over a thirteen-year-old ago in the kind of iconic country wedding that prioritizes the can-do spirit of rural communities and the participation of bosom friends.

Sydney’s beautiful mom Bonnie is also one of those gardeners whose innate talents fill me with equal parts awe and envy. In the swirl of her mother-of-the-bride duties, she asked for some help from my mom in assembling the table arrangements. She provided mom with a lengthy list of the flowers she would be growing all summer in her garden for the October wedding date. Mom was completely delighted to be included in her favorite element of this special event.

We drove down to the farm on a perfect late summer morning, stopping several times by the side of the road, as mom exclaimed, “Look at those gorgeous cattails!” or “We must have some of those beautiful grasses!” As we pulled up to Bonnie’s house ferrying buckets overflowing with ornamental greenery, I wondered if she would feel at all put out that we had felt the need to augment the bounty of her season-long efforts.

Sometimes I am completely tone-deaf.

During Sam’s stay at the farm, Bonnie told me that she had offered him this recollection about his grandmother’s contributions to Sydney and Sean’s nuptials:

“I was telling Sam today about the day his grandmother came and took a motley crew of workers and some home grown flowers and in a couple hours transformed it all into a wedding!  Please tell Joyce hello for me.  I hope she is doing well.”

It’s the perfect amalgam of Bonnie’s humility (“some home grown flowers” indeed!) and the lasting impression of talent and generosity my mother leaves on the people she touches.

On Mother’s Day, I wish my mom to know how much I love her, how much I admire her, and how very much I wish I had inherited her green thumb.

But most of all, how much I have enjoyed living among the copious expressions of her beauty.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. Enjoy a whiskey sour in your garden.


One Response to “Of Flowers and Whiskey Sours”

  1. Donna Says:

    Suz, such a lovely tribute to Mom, and so much better than “coals to Newcastle.” Disclaimer needed, however: I in know way inherited Mom’s talent in the garden. I am Jim’s assistant — the waterer, the weed puller, the rose dead-header, and the most frequent admirer of his talent. I make an occasional suggestion, have an idea or two, but he is the gardener-in-chief and our yard would be nothing without him. I had to get this into print for posterity. Oh, I do also mow the grass. 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day!

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