In the garden

I am in the garden, and life is good.
That’s because my sister Therese and I met at Mom’s in Austin to do a makeover of a wild patch of white geraniums.
The day was all about digging and planting and laying pavers.
But it was also about spending time with Mom and making her very happy. Therese worked on a puzzle with her, I identified the insecticides in her garden shed and, best of all from Mom’s point of view, found a dandelion killer that had been sitting in the shed ever since Dad died nearly 20 years ago. I have a feeling I know what she will be doing on Friday.
Part of the fun was taking Mom plant shopping. It’s a lot more fun to pick out plants when someone else is footing the bill and she had money from our sister Peg and then Therese and I paying for everything else. And then it was back to the garden for plenty of planting.
Her own garden is filled with things we could move and replant and that’s just what we did, moving Siberian iris, lilies and Autumn Joy into premier spots where Mom can see them out the kitchen window when she’s washing dishes.
Therese was the general in charge because she’s focused, she has a plan, and has a way of pulling me back from the edge of my garden wandering.
Every time Mom would invite to look at some plant she wanted me to identify, I would hear the call back to work: “Geri, weren’t you going to load the bricks into the wheelbarrow?” “Geri, weren’t you going to dig up a lily?” “Geri, we are only working on this one garden.”
She was right every time, but I’m used to a more laid back approach when Mom and I garden as a duo. We both like to rest a lot. Therese soldiers on as if Hitler’s troops are advancing on the garden and we have only this one moment in time to finish building our horticultural armaments.
Therese is right, of course, because after supper we piled into our vehicles and drove separate directions back home, our gardening tasks all accomplished. And both of us were carrying pots of johnny-jump-ups from Mom.
I’m guessing Therese’s little Johnnys will be planted with precision before she goes onto other pursuits tomorrow. Me, I’ll probably meander around the yard for an hour or two before I find a place to plop them.
Unless, of course, I find something else to distract me.
Hey, no matter where we are or what we are doing tomorrow, we were all in the garden together today, so life is good.

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Happy mother’s day

There are countless tributes to mothers today, as there should be.
And if you read Facebook, you know everybody thinks they have the best mom.
And that’s as it should be.
Too bad most of you are wrong.
For 10 of us, the Parlin clan, we really do have the best mom.
Think about it. Ten kids. And most of them aren’t as loving and caring and quiet and gentle as number four. (That would be me.)
OK, most of them are quieter.
But all of us know we have the best mom.
She came to adulthood in an age where most women didn’t work outside the home. They got married, had children, and raised the kids while the man of the house earned a salary.
And that’s what my mom did. She just did it like one of those Avengers superheroes.
Dad stretched a dollar as far as it would go and then mom cooked it up for 12 people squeezed around the table — the youngest in a high chair and the oldest getting ready to go off to college.
Her days were spent doing loads of laundry, and then more laundry, and then another load of laundry. And then she would peg diaper upon diaper on the clothesline. (Even if my environmentally conscious parents had been able to afford those new-fangled disposables, they wouldn’t have used them.)
She kept as clean a house as possible where the clutter-making kids outnumbered the one woman intent on cleaning up. While watching TV at night, we would all raise our legs like a badly rehearsed Rockettes kick line so mom could vacuum under and around us.
“I can’t hear.” we would yell, but she would just keep on cleaning.
In the mornings she made a big tub of oatmeal so we could start off the day with something warm to get us through to lunch.
And then there were the sick days. When chickenpox or mumps or measles hit one kid, down we all went one by one, with mom playing nursemaid and servant.
She herself never got sick. She didn’t have time to be sick. No paid sick days when the boss is a 5-year-old.
To this day, she doesn’t get sick much. A couple months ago, she complained of a cold and said she was going to rest that day. The next day when I talked to her she was already on the mend. Heck, my colds usually get a stranglehold on me for two weeks.
Recently, she’s had to have injections in her eye for macular degeneration. It is upsetting and unsettling and she hasn’t quite figured out how to accept it with grace yet. She prays a lot, suffers mostly in silence unless I ask the right question, and then goes on about her life.
So, yeah, the Parlins have the best mom — even though it would embarrass her to hear me say it.

Spring’s perfume

I just got a big gulp of the best perfume on earth and I didn’t have to pay a penny.
It is finally raining and the scent that it releases is like no other on earth.
It’s a mixture of composted leaves, fresh cut grass and the lilacs, tulips and irises that have already begun to open.
It is so fresh that if they were to put it in a bottle for sale, it would be too costly to purchase.
But it is ours for free. So every half hour or so, I go to the front door, open it, and just take deep breaths. I watch the lightning crackle over the Minnesota bluffs and the thunder rumble across the river for our dousing here in Wisconsin.
It’s even better this time around because this is happening at night and there is something magical about night-time rain.
It’s a considerate rain, allowing us to do our gardening and other outside projects in the daylight before loosing all that damp goodness on us.
It’s a spectacular rain, accompanied by brief lightning flashes and the grumble rumble of thunder.
And in the morning, more tulips will open, the lilacs will add to the perfume and the grass will grow just a little bit taller.
Think I’ll open the front door for one more good breath or two because this doesn’t happen often enough.