I'd like to say I bring flowers to my mother's grave every month or something. But the truth is, it isn't nearly so often. I don't know why, I ride my bike through the cemetery often and think of her every single time. And when I pass it and there is nothing there because the last batch faded and were removed I remind myself to get more. Maybe it's because we have to drive a few towns over to buy them, or because to do it "right" is sort of expensive, or maybe because I'm so busy as a mother myself. But, I don't really think those things would stop me if I felt an urgency about it.
So, Thursday, my grandmother and son went with me to make an arrangement and honor her together.
When I was little, my mother would point to those praying hands in the background, below, and say that was where she would be buried. I thought she meant that was her grave marker and was amazed that hers and my father's headstone was so big. I guessed that other people must realize how important they were to let them have that.
After she passed away, I was thirteen and would ride my bike for hours. I always went through the cemetery, past the praying hands. It wasn't a sad thing for me. It was comforting. I knew she wasn't there. She was with God, but it was a pretty place and used to have a little canal with a dock behind it that few knew about.
I still ride by it most every time I'm on my bicycle. The other day I brought my son and husband with me. I showed them the different old fashioned stones: Woodsmen of America tree trunks, angel statues with rhyming elegies, and the tiny stones in Babyland. But what touched me most was a little concrete cross that had no wordy message, just a last name that wasn't carved in deep enough. Around the edges someone had pressed little cat's eye marbles into the drying concrete. I'm sure it was the only ornament they could afford as a tribute. Yet here it stands today, unique in a sea of stones because they had to be creative to put love into it.
My grandmother and I were satisfied with our summery bouquet and after talking a while, we left.
Maybe we don't honor her with artificial flowers really often, but we do talk about my mother all of the time. I've always told my children about her- her patience with us, her subtle sense of humor, how she played games with me, and her dedication to mission work. I tell them how she made our tiny little home seem so beautiful with her care and attention to detail, how she played the piano during the day with abandon, how she gathered her family together each night to pray. My grandparents tell all of us how she was as a girl. For a time she wanted to join the army so she could be on an army baseball team like her father, then she was going to marry the preacher's son. Later, she just wanted to be a mother like her mama. They can honestly say she never gave them any reason to doubt her or worry. She was gentle and kind her whole life.
My grandmother reminds me how she raised my brother and I to honor our grandparents by visiting our great grandmothers regularly and really listening when they spoke. I, in turn, honor her by continuing to do that with my children. It is natural for us, the way family should be.
Grandmommy and I honor her with our sometimes sad attempts to grow African Violets like hers. I honor her every single day I put being a homemaker ahead of other distractions. She is in so much of what I do that I don't know if I could examine my life and tell where her influence begins and ends. It's not just talk when I say her choices are living long after her. They are shaping generations, really. I want to live my life in a way that is not only pleasing to God, but a tribute to her.
So I don't let the irregular cemetery arrangements get me too down because I know that we are remembering her in the way that would really matter to her.
Well, I can scratch one thing off of the list: I did treat and paint my patio furniture.
The set was already neglected when I bought it at a Nacogdoches flea market.
I used about 2 1/2 cups of my brother-in-law's Corroseal, (thanks!) painted on in a fairly thick layer to stop the rust,
then lots of rustoleum enamel in Fern,
They were a neat retro pattern for cheap replacement cushions, but I made the mistake of buying them before buying the paint. There just wasn't much choice in outdoor enamel. I went with green, and like it, just not with these cushions. I ordered these instead. They're kind of plain, but bright and will look nice with the awning fabric I want to put up.
Besides, I'm the boss of this project- I reserve the right to change my mind.
When I was in school there were two parties: Christmas and Valentine's Day. We got candy canes and a homemade envelope full of little paper hearts with Elmer's glue running out of their edges. We also got three full months of summer. This was enough for us.
In the last two weeks of this school year my eleven year old had an educational field trip, a mini golf field trip, a trip to a water park, an awards ceremony, and a water fun day.
He was literally worn out from the celebration phenomenon. We didn't really want school to invade the month of June and, I know I'm a bit of a curmudgeon, but I don't think my son cared all that much about even more partying.
I remember when the Fifth grade first started he would come home frustrated that their day was so over scheduled. He didn't feel like he had a free second to think. Those were his words. Sounds like my idea of a nightmare. In fifth grade I did my work quickly then faked a headache so I could lay in the nurse's office and stare at a wall for the rest of the class. I would just lay there and think without interruption.
I guess these two days of partying were a way to balance out the structure and pressure of the school year. They were definitely a blur of camera charging and rushing about for us. I recall snippets like Presidential Awards, the Perfect Attendance Award (otherwise known as the Typhoid Mary Award,) and then there was the P.E. Award. The coach said, "If your child exhibited one or more of these qualities during the year, they received this award." Then she proceeded to list every adjective that has anything to do with having even a shred of goodness within you. Of course, my son didn't get this one.
It's not like he made unsatisfactory in conduct and I happen to know he has an unusually pure heart; but a pure heart can still be a little wild. It's okay, he racked up on the academics awards and I know they don't give awards for creativity, or exuberance, or humor. Even so, I'm glad he will be free to be his wild self all day for a few months with me.
I loved how freely he and his friends smiled on that day.
I noticed that they spent every unplanned, free moment (and even parties have lots of structure) stunt fighting and chasing one another for six hours. Then they ate a bunch of pizza and washed it down with a coke.
My son threw up that evening. He'd had too much "fun" and he knew it. He was overstimulated and dehydrated before the day was half over. I can't imagine myself, as a child, snubbing a giant inflatable water slide because I was "all watered out" like he did. But, really, we didn't have party overkill either. We also didn't even have a slip n' slide, just a tiny plastic Kmart pool that we had to lay flat in to be submerged. We would drag ourselves around the edge on our sides, chasing each other in a circle, to play Shark.
I know our sons need self control and to be attentive, even if they're done with their work. I know they must learn respect and I believe he is and will. But sometimes, during the school day, I think it would be great if boys could just act like boys, not just on special occasions.
I'm really surprised these Tom Thumb peas are growing in this dry heat. Even with a well, soaker hoses, and strategically placed sprinklers everything is struggling. I don't see these as being very drought tolerant, but you never know...
It's funny how right when I feel frustrated by my gardening skills, (or lack of them) something will spring up and delight me enough to shrug off the withered stalks and such.
This is actually a good variety for patio planters, being a dwarf, because they can be planted almost on top of one another and still produce with out taking up much space. They say you can eat them right off of the vine, but I've got one big bowl's worth (Yes, a little more than what you see here. This is not my usual single serving crop) and I'm cooking them tonight.