No mother is perfect. The Good Lord knows I’m not, but I believe my mother gave it her best shot.
Growing up in a small mill town of Cordova, Alabama, with very little money and no father in her home for the majority of her life, she still claimed to have a happy childhood.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, but she kept her emotions locked up tight when she raised my sisters and me. At times, that created some distance and a lack of understanding, especially with my generation that can dump out every passing feeling. But the things she did well, she endeavored to accomplish with gusto and left a legacy of love in the process.
The lady could cook, and she did every single night until Alzheimer’s made it dangerous. Because of her year of nursing school during World War II, she could make up a bed like nobody’s business, and I still miss her when I’m sick. Okay, I still cry for her when I’m really sick. And grandchildren—boy did she love them. She’d sit on the floor and play, even in her eighties, making each one feel special.
All these memories comfort me on Mother’s Day. But most especially flowers. My mother loved to plant. She could put a dead-looking stick in the ground and add her special root tonic, and it’d sprout leaves. All around my yard I see the evidence. Around the entire South in the spring, I see her as I recall names of flowers she raised. From the early daffodils and red bud trees through the chrysanthemums and camellias, they all remind me of her sitting on a little garden stool also well into her eighties. She said working the ground brought her close to the Lord, gave her time to think and pray. Perhaps that’s the biggest seed she planted—the dedication to the Lord and the determination to keep trying.
I don’t have a green thumb, and I can’t make a bed look good to save my life. The debate still rages on my cooking. But I hope to plant a seed of love in my children and grandchildren with the things I do well, whatever they are. Like my mother.
What legacy did your mother leave you?
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Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson