A Gift for Mother's Day

Sunday, May 13, 2012

From L-R: Gene, Mildred, Mom, Francis. The Doran Clan
Mother's Day is somewhat difficult for both Venus and I. We both lost our mothers at far too young an age. Venus' mother passed from cancer in 2004, not long after we were married and barely a year after the birth of her first grandchild, Marquitos.

My mother, pictured above, 3rd from the left, passed at the age of 63 from a sudden heart attack in 1991. I was 27 years old and very much alone. It would be years before I would meet the love of my life in the wife that is Venus and the true healing would begin.

Bright Flowers for Mother's Day
I sometimes wonder what in the world marketing companies are thinking of when they blast loud statements that proclaim REMEMBER MOM ON MOTHER'S DAY!!!! Thank you, sir. I remember just fine. Thank you for reminding me. Not that I didn't want to be reminded.

I do sometimes allow myself to wonder what mom would think of the gardening paradise that Venus and I are slowly building in the Bird Back 40. Would she like it? A bit overboard perhaps? Mom was a fan of both gardening and citrus trees in the yard. She lamented often about a grapefruit tree that refused to grow an inch, nor would it set fruit.

Hanging Fuchsia
She was particularly pleased however, when my father-in-law and I dug up a rather unproductive lemon tree that had been sitting in a shady portion of the yard for years, not doing much of anything. Once we moved to a sunnier location, however, this do-nothing lemon bush suddenly sprang to life and started to deliver a bushel of large, sweet and sour lemons. Score points for the youngest son and father-in-law. She was pleased.

Spring was, by far, mom's favorite season. You could count on her visiting the plants section at our nearby Longs or Thrifty Drug Store and bringing home a plant or two. A six-pack of tomato starter plants almost always found its way into her shopping cart.

Fuchsia Flowers
And -- of course -- mother absolutely HAD to have her hanging fuchsia. Spring would not be complete without one or two fuchsias hanging from the back patio. I looked forward to the day when she would bring them home. It brightened up our rather drab Modesto backyard. It signaled the official start of summer. The long winter was officially over.

When I spotted this beauty hanging in the garden section of an ACE Hardware store in Tracy on the day before Mother's Day, well, it was an impulse purchase that simply could not be ignored. Mother would have appreciated the gift of a fuchsia on Mother's Day.

While mother may have loved her fuchsia -- they didn't love her back. Fuchsias do well in a coastal environment and also enjoy a bit of shady protection from the hot afternoon sun. But in late June and July, when the Delta Breeze shut itself off from the Modesto area and our famous furnace-like summers set in, the fuchsia was history.

Mom did her level best to keep it alive, but it would invariably shrivel up and die by mid-July. It was then that I would hear the familiar lament about the cooler conditions in her home state of Oregon and her dislike for the brutal summer conditions that graced our San Joaquin Valley.

I didn't understand mother's fascination with fuchsias then, but I do now. They were a reminder of her childhood in Eugene. It was there where fuchsias and blackberry vines grew wild and profusely. When her Modesto fuchsias kicked the bucket, it was a reminder that her childhood had done much the same.

So -- for you mother -- on this Mother's Day -- a fuchsia hangs for you in the Bird Back 40. I'm not sure how long it will live -- or if it will kick the bucket as so many of the Modesto fuchsias did. But this is how I remember you on Mother's Day.


Greg Damitz said...

My wife likes fuscias also. There are some varieties that can exist here in the shade. I have a Baby hang that is doing fairly well. The flowers are tiny though. Mother's day here is bittersweet as well. we lost my mother 4 years ago and my wife's mother last december.

Bill Bird said...

I like to think of it as a road that we all must travel at some point, Greg. Yet, we are forced to travel that road alone.

Greg Damitz said...

This is a friends Facebook post today:
Took maryann to the lake for a bbq. And then cruzed the park for my mama sure missing her today