I have now managed over twenty five years of Mother’s Days without my own mother. The years get more, and sometimes I feel the missing more too. Today I felt it, but the weather has been beautifully sunny and I spent a happy hour in the garden gathering a watercolour bouquet of tulips, which were opening to the warmth of the sun.
As I was contemplating the bursting flowers and new leaves on the trees, I was reminded of the words of a Philip Larkin spring poem I read a few days ago. Sometimes we think that the new life of spring is all a new birth, and an escape from the progression of time. But no, this wonderful fresh life is still marked by the passing of the years;
The recent buds relax and spread, Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again, And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new, Is written down in rings of grain. (From “The Trees”)
The message of this day to me as a mother is that the promise of fresh life and new beginnings is real, but the past is not forgotten. It is written in the wood, the grain of who I am. And being a mother is not a simple thing, a one off giving birth; there is a deeper, longer story being laid down. The passing of years, the aging process and the adding of “rings” to the grain, does not make the new beginnings any less wonderful.
And as a daughter, today I remember my mother. Her gift of life to me required effort on her part, and was the work of many years. It wrote lines in her life as well as mine. So here’s a bouquet of tulips to you, Mum! I have not seen you for so long, but the fresh flowers on this sunny Sunday remind me of your gift to me of being alive, and all the “rings” you wrote in my life.