Tag Archives: flowers

A Flower to Say He Was Sorry

Jasmine lobbed out a great conversation starter today on Facebook: “Let’s play show and tell. Post an image in the comments then tell us something about it.” I love threads like this, so I checked my phone to see what pictures I had taken in the last few days.

An apology, twelve years after the fact

An apology, twelve years after the fact

I posted this picture of a white gladiolus that is blooming in the higgledy-piggledy overgrown strip next to my driveway. My story: “This is a scraggly lone gladiolus in my yard. I keep it because my late husband bought me the bag of bulbs in the Amsterdam airport as an apology for an argument we had at five a.m. in the Berlin airport.”

I’ve been hanging on to this flower (and his one wonkier orange cousin) for over a decade now. We had a vision of turning that dirt next to the driveway into a garden, but that never happened. But you know how bulbs are–you throw them in the dirt and forget about them until a year later. You enjoy them for a while, then forget that they are buried down there, still waiting for another time to bloom. Life moves on past the bulbs, so that every year, I am pleasantly surprised by daffodils, delighted with the grape hyacinths, then sentimental over the wonky gladiolus.

Richard and I didn’t argue much, maybe five times in four years together. And two of those happened when he was jonesing for a cigarette. Yes, he smoked. He HATED the fact that he was a smoker. Hid it from people, quit over and over. He was mostly 100% quit here at home (gave himself a pass during tax prep), but every time we went to Europe, he’d fall off the wagon again. As he put it, “Everyone smokes in Europe.” As soon as our plane landed in Amsterdam or Berlin or Paris, I would rush off to buy a pound of Leonidas candied orange rinds in dark chocolate and he would run in the other direction to buy Marlboros he could have gotten for half the price in Atlanta. But he only smoked in Europe–no fudging of the rules.

So we were in Berlin one time and on our last full day there, he finished the pack of cigarettes before dinner time. “You gonna break down and buy a new pack or start bumming them?” I teased. He had it all worked out. “I’ve got three left in a pack in the hotel. One for tonight, one for in the morning, one for at the airport.” Always a man with a plan.

But when we got back to the hotel, he couldn’t find the three cigarettes. He ransacked the room. He opened every pocket on his back pack and mine. He looked under the bed, in the bathroom, behind the curtains on the window sill, in the night stand drawers that we had never opened. He went through our luggage again.

When he started to grumble that the maid had probably stolen them, I said, “Why don’t you just go downstairs and buy another pack?” Nope. That was not the plan. He continued to stomp around looking high and low in our Ibis Hotel room that was probably 80 square feet total. He was bound and determined not to break down and buy another pack with so little time left on the Smoking Continent. He went to sleep, a bundle of bristly nerves.

He woke up the same way at 3:45 a.m. We stumbled around getting dressed and packing the last of the stuff. It was so early that the desk clerk had to call us a cab to Tegel. We didn’t talk much. Because he WAS FINE AND DID NOT SEE ANY REASON TO DISCUSS IT FURTHER THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

We got to the airport with plenty of time before our 6:30 a.m. flight to Amsterdam. It was still too early for much to be open, so I sat there hurting for a Diet Coke and four more hours of sleep. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Richard zipping and unzipping pockets on that godforsaken back pack, still muttering about the larcenous hotel maid.

“Would you PLEASE just go buy a pack of cigarettes?” I snarled.

He snapped right back. It makes me sad to realize that I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of “I am a grown ass man and will make my own decisions.” After someone dies, even remembering a fight gets sentimental, because at least they were there and snarling at you. Together.

That was that. We flew to Amsterdam in silence. At Schipol, we found the gate to Atlanta and I plopped my ass down with a book, a Diet Coke, and a very high wall of GoToHellYouRatBastard around myself. He wandered off to buy cigarettes.

He came back smelling of Marlboros and carrying a mesh bag of flower bulbs. He held them out to me like a bouquet and apologized. “I would have bought you flowers, but we couldn’t bring them in through Customs. These will get past the sniffer dogs.” Ever the romantic.

That was the only spring we got to live here together. I planted the glads along the driveway. The next year when they bloomed for the first time, he was gone. I had my apology, but he was gone.

After remembering this story today, I did some research on glads. Turns out, Gladiolus (plural gladioli) is the birth flower for the month of August, Richard’s birth month. This spiky, colorful flower is also called the Sword Lily for its likeness to a gladiator’s sword. With its connections to fearless warriors, Gladiolus symbolizes strength of character, faithfulness and honor.

But here’s the fact I learned today that made my hand flutter up to rest on my heart. The Gladiolus flower signifies remembrance.

Every summer, I remember that morning in a strange airport, the smell of smoke, the way it felt to argue and the way it felt to forgive ourselves. It makes me glad.


The wonky orange one

The wonky orange one

Cherry Blossoms

I remember one Easter when my nephews were small–they grabbed handfuls of cherry blossoms that had fallen from the trees in Nana and Papa’s yard.  Jackson and Grant flung the pale pink petals in the air so they floated down to dust baby Jake’s head.  We all laughed as the boys sang, “It’s snowing!  It’s snowing!” while Jake squealed with joy.  That’s been a dozen years ago and I still remember the sound of their laughter and the astonishment I felt at loving these small, new people so keenly.

Isn’t it holy to live in a moment and know that you will remember it for the rest of your life?  Cherry blossoms remind me to look up.  We are alive, beneath the cherry blossoms.



Seven Signs of Spring

1.  A dog named Bunny who likes to hop.  Hop on top.

nana bunny

2.  Broody hens who listen to Billy Joel in the coop.

nana chickens

3.  Lenten roses.  Helleborus orientalis that all grew from two plants.

nana hellebore

4.  Is that flowering quince?  Oh, and Bunny.  Nana says it was cute at first but now it’s getting a little annoying.

nana hop

5.  Scampering.

nana run

6.  Papa may have gone a little overboard on the tomato seedlings.

nana tomatoes

7.  Rows of tulips all lined up for the Easter parade.

nana tulips

Happy Anniversary, Fartbuster!

yellow rosesIt’s April 22, y’all!  Happy Anniversary to Fartbuster, wherever he may be.

We married in the backyard at my dad and stepmother’s house on a perfect spring evening.  Now, don’t be picturing some trailer park hoe-down.  Their backyard is SWANKY.  Boxwood hedges line a lush clipped lawn under soaring pecan trees.  Beside the midnight blue lagoon of the pool, bright clouds of pink and white peonies dance beneath a tumbling waterfall of yellow Lady Banks roses.  A yellow and white striped tent sheltered the buffet–cornbread and tomato bisque, pineapple sandwiches, and all sorts of Southern delights.  Sunflowers dotted the tables that were scattered around the pool.  My fairy stepmother is a genius at making things beautiful.

She planted 500 white tulips for the wedding.  But you know how it is with gardening…the Earth works on its own schedule and cares not for the plans of gardeners.  She called me about three weeks before the big day.  I could hear ice cubes tinkling in a glass of bourbon and the flick of a lighter.  She took a long inhale off her cigarette and said, “Heeeeeeey, Love.  You know those tulips for the wedding?  They’re GORGEOUS.  And they’re a teeeeeeensy bit early.  I swear, if your Daddy would let me use the pistol I’d walk out there in the backyard and shoot every one of their goddamn heads off.”

It’s fun to sit here today and think back to the wedding.  In the wake of the bad times that came five years later, some of the details of that day were overshadowed, but they deserve their due.  My mother made my dress for me and it was exactly what I wanted–a French lace bodice, eight layers of tulle for the skirt, with beaded medallions and seed pearls scattered here and there.  Wally played “Ode to Joy” for the processional and “Zip a dee doo dah” for the recessional.  My brother lugged chairs and tables and anything else that needed lugging.  The ladies of the garden club arranged flowers in silver punch bowls, crystal vases and anything else that would hold still.  Jan baked both cakes, lemon with white butter cream frosting in a basket weave and chocolate fudge with sugared grapes.  My sister made table arrangements of sunflowers and stattice and sent me off to the spa for a mani/pedi/massage.  She even wore dyed to match shoes and I still owe her an apology for that.  Mandy came down from Baltimore to read a poem.  Rhoda sent over a spray of green orchids.  Laura performed the service and would accept only a bouquet of peonies as payment.  So many people, so many hands, such light work.  It rained, then it stopped and everything was fresh.

The focal point of the backyard is a magnificent pecan tree, so that was our cathedral.  My stepsister had married in the same spot the spring before.  We called it “The Marrying Tree.”  Later, after two divorces, we renamed it “The Tree of Doom.”  When my sister got engaged a few years later, Daddy and Gay said, “Don’t even THINK about it.  We’ll cut it down ourselves before we let anyone else get married down there.”  They ran off to Vegas and are happy as larks.

I would show you pictures from the wedding, but I packed most of them up after the divorce and put them in the attic at my dad’s house.  I didn’t want to throw them away because they chronicled so much love (from the people who made the day possible), but I didn’t want them around me.   It might be time to dig them out.  I’d like to see my great Aunt Eula again.  She was always so dear to me.  When it was time for wedding day portraits, I had one taken with my grandparents (with whom she lived in a little spinster apartment) then I asked Aunt Eula to pose for a picture with me.  She lit up in her little pink dress and pearls and said, “I’ve never had a picture with the BRIDE!”  Later, when I threw the bouquet and they asked all the unmarried ladies to gather around, Pop hollered, “Get up front, Eula!”  She was about 80.  I did my best to throw it right at her.

In all the fuss and hubbub of that day, there are two moments that stand out in my mind, because they relate back to that idea of “When people show you who they are, believe them.”  There were so many words exchanged that day, and Fartbuster and I had chosen the words of our ceremony very carefully.  He said the vows….but they were just talk.  After Laura pronounced us married and invited us to share a kiss, I reached up to fling my arms around my new husband’s neck.  He held my arms down.  In the picture, he’s holding my arms down like I’m a lunatic and I might hurt someone with all that joy.  That was his first action to me as my husband–tamping down my enthusiasm.  When the pictures came in weeks later and I saw the awkward way he was pinning my arms to my sides, my heart was heavy.  But I buried that feeling and took what I got.  For a while.

I rarely think of that moment anymore.  This next one, I think of frequently.  It’s another case of a man showing me who he was and me believing him.  I can’t convey how hard everyone had worked to put together this wedding.  It was a feat.  A miracle.  A gift.  At the moment when Wally started playing the opening notes of “Ode to Joy,” my Daddy took my hand and tucked it into his arm.  We stepped out on the porch and I got my first look at the finished product…my wedding that I had dreamed about for so long.  I was overwhelmed by the moment.  It was my wish come true.  I whispered, “Oh, Daddy!  It’s perfect!”  He patted my hand and said, “So are you, Sugar, so are you.”

Some people hold you down.  Some people lift you up.  


We are made up of what we feed ourselves.

We are made up of what we feed ourselves.

I have lost my mojo.  Misplaced my mojo.  OK, to be honest, my mojo has been devoured by zombies this week.

There’s a marathon of The Walking Dead on AMC so I’ve been catching up on the first two seasons of this awesome show.  Now I finally understand why Carol is so quiet and how Maggie and Glen met and when Carl learned to shoot and why everyone hated Lori and just how much, how very much, I love Daryl.  So much that I want to give him a long hot bath and cut his forelock.  Mmm, mmm, MMM.  I do love a man with a crossbow and a steady moral compass.  

Fifteen hours of zombie dystopia packed into three days may have been a tad too much.  I have been sad, paranoid and unfocused for days.  Granted, some of it has to do with staying up past midnight too many times in a row.  I’m lethargic from sitting on the couch.  The house is going to pot and the refrigerator is empty.  I haven’t been writing like I was.  I worry that I don’t have the skills to protect myself and my children in the event of an outbreak of zombie fever.  I can shoot, but only if they stand still.  I can forage, but mostly in Kroger.  I can survive in the wild, as long as I have a car charger and wi-fi.  I would be as vulnerable as T-Dog in a red Star Trek shirt.  This knowledge is BRINGING ME DOWN.  

The fatigue is eating my brain from the inside.  So when a lady flipped me off after I had let her into traffic, I let it get to me for a whole day.   When my daughter complains about dinner, it hurts my feelings.  If the cat delivers a mole to the doorstep, I futz and futz and futz instead of just slinging it into the neighbors’ yard (they’ve moved…and not because we pelt them with carrion).  Normally, negative things roll off me, but not this week.  They are eating into my flesh! 

It reminds me of a science lesson on cell structure.  (Actual scientists or science teachers should probably stop here…SPOILER ALERT…I’m not very good at science).  We are made up of cells that are contained within semipermeable membranes.  Everything in us is in the process of exchanging, absorbing, passing through.  I think this applies on the grand scale, too.  Even though we are solid enough to keep the insides in and the outsides out, we are permeable–we let things through.  

Have you ever done the experiment where you stick a daisy or carnation in a vase filled with dyed water?  Within the hour, the daisy will take on the color in which it is immersed.  Or have you dyed eggs this week?  We absorb, too, just like the flower or the eggshell.  If I immerse myself in a world of fear and desperation, guess what starts to show on my petals?  

Last night, I sat down to watch more of The Walking Dead.  At the end of the first hour, Dale was dispatched by Daryl with a violently generous act…and then some dumb show about taxidermy came on.  WHAAAAAT???  Only one hour of zombies???  I checked the cable guide and discovered that it was true…no more walkers for me.  I flipped over to “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and enjoyed two hours of pleasantly delightful British pensioners opening themselves to life in Jaipur.  Ahhhhhhhh.  

Permeability has its good side, too.  If Carlos gets the giggles, I am likely to get the giggles.  When the birds sing outside my window in the morning, my heart lifts up.   A woman humming at the salad bar puts a song in my head and hours later I am whistling the same tune.  

So today I am going to soak up some sun, laugh with my friends, read a book.   I can clean my crossbow another day.  

Have you experienced permeability this week?  Was it positive or negative?  What did you do to shake the negative?