I am home, whatever that means. I sit on the patio in the sunshine. Other worlds seem far away, and I am content with the dog tangling happinesses between my legs as breezes bowl clouds by in the streaming bright of summer skies.
I have been, gone and come back again. I still have no clue what comes next but it doesn’t seem to matter. There is this.
My mum is on her knees. It’s a familiar sight.
Some find solace in churches, my mother says her thank yous for creation by beckoning more it into life. She has faith in her garden even when all else is ending. She says she would like her end to be on a compost heap.. For her, seasons ebb, flow and change on sore knees, gulped down with painkillers. Aches turn to pains as summer warms, then chills out again.
I wonder if it is worth it. But she makes friends with seedlings and bulbs, believes in better days when dead winter strips everything back to bone. She knits creepers, hemming the walls with thoughts of flowers and what might come be, making something beautiful magicked from air.
In this September, Bees come to riot and grow summer-drunk. The blooms are heavy headed, as if in need of sleep.
Today she crouches, fingers deep in the rich brown earth, coaxing plants up, carrying them in cradles of roots and rubber gloves. These are children she’s gifting to me. Hopes for a home she’s wishing I might have: a place where dreams will have time to grow and blossom.
I stroke the soft lamb’s ear leaf that feels like my childhood and think of fish pie suppers, parsley sharp, as I watch the pots green up with herbs. The earth keeps many memories.
I feel loved. It is glorious, and yet as modest as the plastic tray of cuttings. This love brings tears to my eyes and I know the waters fruitful, thoughtful.
I think of my dad. His death has taught me to see life better and in seeing it, I am learning to love better.
At times my mum and I have found our relationship rocky, muddled up and pebble-packed in misunderstandings and confusion. I say she makes me crazy. I know she sometimes feels the same, wonders how I can be hers, of her and yet so different, so stubborn.
There were times when I threw down hard words I wished to take back, put back in my pockets. I took too much for granted, forgave little but asked much. I didn’t know how much she felt too, how many tears fed the silences of the flowers, how many words were never spoken for fear that choke weeds my spring forth.
And now I want to grow something, birth something. I am learning to love like a mother, to give my time, to tame my selfishnesses, and here I’m finding new closenesses with my mother.
I am learning that sometimes clean dishes and made beds have more eloquence than poetry, and hold more of the secret beauties of the heart. I am learning that regular cups of tea fill her with volumes of happiness, that a biscuit on the side of the plate is a love token.
I don’t always understand why these are the things that she needs, but now I know I don’t have to. I simply want to love her in a language she understands.
I have learned that love should give freely, because there is freedom in giving without being asked.
A few days later she is rushed to hospital in terrible pain. At first there is no diagnosis, only growing fears.
My brother and I fret and fuss. One death has made us sensitive, fearful, frightened of how easily life ends. Cancer is the word that we think of, but can’t quite bring ourselves to say. When the doctors’ verdict finally comes, it is serious but something softer on the tongue, easier to handle.
But of course one day she will die and the word that brings the end will be mostly irrelevant. One day we will all die. We pray it back, wish it far away, but now I try to keep the idea in the corner of my eye.
Death is the lesson I hide from and hold. It reminds me to live life, to work on the garden when the season allows, to nurture love now.
Not all days can bring forth blooms.