Mom loved pretty things. She loved to marvel in the beauty of the sky, the trees, pretty flowers on the side of the road. I can’t tell you how many times (shhh… sometimes illegally I am sure) we stopped on the side of a highway to pick wild flowers so mom could put them in her vases and pitchers and whatever else was around the house. And every year at this time when I was young, she planted. Geraniums and pansies and daisies. She would sit on the curb next to the spots she planted, and weed. Then put them in. And she would water them and tell me how pretty they were and to stay out of them with my bike and my ball and whatever else I was being reckless with.
Mom’s famous phrase to me was simply this… “Pay ATTENTION!” and the word “attention” would get louder each time. She wanted me to make sure I didn’t break or bend or mess up her pretty things. I sure needed to learn that skill with the many small and crammed antique shops I spent time in as a kid walking around asking my mom if we were leaving soon each minute we were there.
In many ways I needed that. I needed someone to show me what it meant to see life with open eyes. I thank her today for creating so much more awareness in me than I would have found myself. I, for the most part, can say I am someone who pays attention to the “whos” and “whats” around me. Mom taught me to pay attention not just so I didn’t mess things up, but to be able to marvel in the beauty around me even if we were just driving by.
One of my favorite memories was the summer mom rented us a beach house in Avalon for two weeks. It was the last time mom would go on vacation as she was starting her decline during this time. She knew this and wanted it to be special. So every night, she would sit out on the deck at the house and watch the sunset. And every 3 or 4 minutes she would call to me if I was inside watching a game with my dad to come see the sky. “JEN… Come see it now,” she would yell. And I would go. And look. And often take pictures and then go back inside.
And each time, I felt more and more connected to the mom I was losing so apparently. One of the last times she called me, I finally just stayed outside. The sky was changing by the minute and was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever laid eyes on. Mom and I sat together watching it. Silently aware of what we were doing. This was a memory I would always have… I was paying attention.
She never wanted to miss a thing. I think that is why I don’t often miss things today. I can hear her so clearly in my mind, sometimes laughing and sometimes as stern as she could be…. “Pay Attention.” It was something all these years later that has probably saved me… more than I know.
This was my first Mother’s Day without Mom. I missed her terribly. But one thing I did that brought her closer to me on Sunday was I went out and bought flowers. I got geraniums and pansies and daisies. Just like mom, in all beautiful colors. I spent yesterday afternoon planting them into the pretty boxes and planters I got… And last night I sat listening to the fountain, admiring the beauty on my porch.
Mom was with me. She always is. But this mother’s day, as we spent it taking care of an adorable six year old, riding carnival rides and playing games… picking out flowers that day meant the world to me. And now I get to sit and marvel at the beauty around me, just like mom would.
And as hard as this first Mother’s Day was without her, I wanted to be close to her in anyway I could. I wanted to pay attention to the beauty around me.
And so I planted flowers.