Exponent II Classics: Hardy Mums

Mommy Mum and Baby Mum
Originally uploaded by Sister72

A friendly reminder that Exponent II magazine subscriptions are up and running.  If you enjoy this classic, you won’t want to miss our upcoming Winter issue.

Linda Collins
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Vol. 13: No. 1 (Fall 1986)

I watched you as you sat on the corner of her hospital bed, your face so full of love that I almost felt like an intruder.  Your eyes would move from her face to the monitor bleeping and beating out the rhythm of her 80-year-old heart.

This was your mother, tiny and frail, whose body had borne yours forty-three years ago.  She was a beauty.  I had studied her fair, Irish face at twenty, looking at me from that photograph that stood on the dresser in your dad’s bedroom.  No wonder he had loved her.  In her eyes, you could see the glimmerings of the goodness of her soul.

She was proper and refined, a perfect Irish Catholic lady.  Her sense of right and wrong was strong, her devotion to her faith and her family undeviating, her outlook on life eternally optimistic.  She was grateful for what she had been given.

When your father had died just six months before at 84, she had announced that she no longer wanted to live in the home in which you had grown up.  The decision was made with a calm acceptance of the seasons of her life.  There was no bitterness, but it was time for the house to go to another family who could share their love, as your family had, within its walls.  She wanted that legacy to continue.  “This has been a wonderful house for us,” she said.  “It was always full, but there was always room for one more.”

Shortly before your father’s death, I called her one night to see how he was doing.  We chatted briefly before you came to the phone.  When I expressed my concern, she replied, “But we have been blessed with fifty-eight years together.  He was a wonderful husband to me and a splendid father to our children, and I have my memories.”  It was clear that although she would miss him terribly, she had no regrets.

On our way to the hospital to see her that day, we had stopped at a florist shop.  You came out with a lavender hardy mum—so right for autumn, yet so full of promising buds.  She was delighted when you gave it to her and asked us to find a spot for it on the window sill in the sun.  We talked about how she could plant it in the backyard of her new apartment when she came home from the hospital.  She was looking forward to getting settled, going bowling, and having her bridge club over.  Besides that, her hairdresser was only two blocks away.

On the morning that we left for her wake, I noticed the plant sitting out on the driveway—each lavender bud now blooming proudly, dripping the tears of the October morning’s rain.  The hardy mum had been a perfect choice—for your hardy mom.


EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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