This Mother's Day I write my mother. She passed on almost four years ago. And I miss her.
So I thumb through photo albums and as I look at her as a young girl, young woman, and mother, I wonder what she sees through my eyes.
And I "thumb" through the stories she told me in her 90s for the ones I would like to place
in my garden of memories on Mother's Day. Why a garden? For many years she sent me a check for Mother's Day to use to purchase plants for my garden. "I was never a gardener," she'd often
say, "but I liked to arrange our supper on plates to look like a garden."
I see you sitting at the dinner table in Concord, Massachusetts and New Canaan, Connecticut.
You've changed for dinner out of the dresses you wore all day. Lit candles are reflected in the shine of the dining table that belonged to your mother. Over the years you used different china patterns. You loved the blue and yellow design on the Stangl Ware dishes Dad bought you.
I loved the dishes from Grandmalyn with the tiny lavender all-over fern design and brightly-colored birds. The dinner plates painted with Audubon bird designs are in my cupboard along side
Grandmalyn's china. But who presided at the head of the table?
The girl who grew up in Chicago.The fourteen year old of the Grand Tour in 1930 who told her diary how may laps she marched around the deck of the S.S. Hamburg and how late at night she danced with your brother. The young woman who cruised to Bermuda with a college girlfriend. The woman who was active in charity work during and after Northwestern University. The young mother who moved far away from her family to be with her husband, and the wife who vacationed "out west" and rode on horse-packing trips into the wilderness even though horses weren't your favorite mode of travel. You gave fly fishing a go. Thrilled over a trip to Kenya and wrote glowing reports of the wildlife you and Dad saw.
You're the mother who learned how to sew so she be part of a 4-H club and teach my friends and I to sew some crafts--like covering a cigar box with calico to make a sewing box. The mother who took us climbing up Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. Who made sure I took piano lessons. The wife active in the League of Women Voters. An active member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Concord and then the branch church in New Canaan, Connecticut.
You moved away from the cottage you loved in Concord when your husband started a new job in New York City. Endured a year of remodeling of your home, much of the time without a real kitchen.
You made friends of what I called the "older women" at church. Invited them for tea.
You taught me how to drive--a stick shift. Put up with many lurches while I practiced.
After Dad passed on you let me move you to Bozeman when you were 95. I'm only beginning to understand how hard that must have been for you! But you squared your shoulders and soldiered on. When I suggested doing some things to have fun or that you might engage in some of the activities at the independent living facility where you had an apartment, you told me "I didn't move here to have fun, I moved here to have a purpose." You joined church. Attended concerts and lectures with us. Read more than one newspaper a day."I don't want to sit around and eat bon bons," you often said.
You were gracious, courageous, focused, determined. And you loved nature. I remember how much you loved to sit by our sliding door to the porch and watch the birds whenever you came over for lunch on Sundays.
The other day I held in my hand a quilt signed "Grandmother Keith," and dated May 6, 1917. She must have made it in time for your first birthday. I've don't recall seeing it before unpacking a box closed up since you moved. The next person to hold it will be the great, great, great, grandson of the woman who stitched childhood scenes in blue thread one hundred years ago.
Now I live "out west." I like to horseback ride, wade in streams, hike in wildflowers, write stories, take pictures. I often like to talk to you when I'm out in nature alone. In part I'm who I am because of you.
Happy Mother's Day!
1932, 1941, 1944,