Written by Lill from News From Hawkhill Acres
My son was three when he discovered flowers. I had a little flower garden then, not much of one because he was sick with asthma and immune system problems so often, sometimes hospitalized, so I couldn't always take care of the garden.
We were sitting on a log that I'd rolled to the edge of the flowerbed and I was weeding. Mike was sitting against my leg and suddenly noticed a vivid blue Columbine. He was so excited.
I picked one on its long stem and handed it to him.
"Columbine, Mike," I said.
"Combine's are bee-u-tee-full," he said, and he very carefully stroked his cheek with it and then my cheek. "Mommy, do you like Combines?"
"Next to Johnny Jump Ups, they're my favorite flower."
Every spring after that, Mike helped me with my garden, even when he developed Tourette Syndrome and wild mood swings that made him very frustrated and very hard to be with sometimes. Often, I would walk out to sit in the garden, only to have him follow me, pace around the yard for awhile and then sit quietly beside me, until he had himself under control.
Every spring, even when I forgot, he would find my favorite flowers, and come running in with a bunch wilting in his hand. I'd put them into a vase and we'd admire them for days until the summer flowers started to bloom and the spring wildflowers faded away, although the Johnny Jump Ups kept popping up here and there, all the way through until almost fall. Their little pansy-like faces in yellow and purple are so cheerful after a long Maine winter.
This spring, the only Johnny Jump Ups that I noticed were the ones that mysteriously appeared in a flowerbox beside the door - one I hadn't bothered to plant with anything. I was amazed when I saw several Johnny Jump Ups pushing up through the soil, and stood there staring at those cheerful little faces, wishing that Mike was with me so I could show them to him.
Then I ran to the garden to look for Columbines, but there were none. The weeds had crowded them out. I was so disappointed that I cried. There had been three beautiful plants and I had let them die through neglect. Worse, Mike would have loved to have seen them.
A few days later, while walking in our field, I saw a blue haze covering the grass under it in a circle about ten feet wide. It was Columbines. More Columbines than I have ever seen before in one place. I picked a bunch and took them home to make a bouquet with the Johnny Jump Ups. When the flowers have gone by, I'll take some seed home to dry and dig up some plants to put in my garden.
I really needed the Columbines and Johnny Jump Ups this spring, because I don't have Mike. He died from a sudden overwhelming infection 15 months ago. For 11 yrs, he was with me in my garden and my walks through the fields. Of my three children, he was the only one who really loved flowers and gardening the way I do. Last year, I couldn't even look at my garden and almost hoed it under, because of the sad memories it evoked. Now, I'm glad I didn't. I need a place in my garden - and in my heart - for flowers and memories that come in the spring.
I'm 56, married with two children - one of each. They learn at home; I work at home. When things get too fraught, I hide behind the furnace and read and eat dark chocolate - Fair Trade, of course. They always find me and drag me upstairs to play video games, but there's hope. Spring is here and soon I'll be able to hide outside. When I'm not hiding or teaching my progeny, I enjoy knitting socks, reading and cooking - although not all at once - and writing at News From Hawkhill Acres.