Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My mother's garden

The last rose of summer in last year's garden
Tomorrow is the 4th of July. I've spent it at cookouts at family member's homes for 53 years straight. This year, Ron and I are claiming the day for ourselves and doing whatever the heck we want.

Chelmsford, MA (the next town over) has a big party on the Common the night before and the day of the 4th. Lots of vendors, bands, a parade, and friends to bump into. Every year we work the July 4th breakfast at our church which sits in the middle of the Common. This year, we're taking a break.

Ron and I just got home from the Common after talking to several folks at the non-profit booths including the champion of the Chelmsford High Alumni Association, George Simonian.

George was friends with my grandfather who taught and coached at CHS for many years. My grandfather is a bit of a legend 'round these parts and I'm proud of that. 

What makes me happy about talking to George is the connection to my past and the Nolan name in local lore. It's one of the reasons I include my maiden name in my signature. 

My husband and George are two peas in a pod. They both love to help youth (my husband is on the Nashoba Valley Technical School school committee) and are passionate about helping youth be the best they can be and preparing them for the future - because the kids are the future.

Standing there and watching the two of them speak with enthusiasm and affection is one thing I love about the 4th. My grandfather is there somewhere in that conversation with one hand on George's shoulder, and one hand on Ron's nodding his head in approval. I wish Ron and my grandfather had met. They would have been fast friends.

When Ron and I got home tonight, I headed outside to check on my flowers. I floated between garden areas with my watering can and an eye for deadheading flowers past their prime.

It struck me that my flower visits are a dichotomy. In one hand I hold the means by which flowers live and grow; in the other hand is the instrument by which the blooms past their time are laid to rest.

Out with the old, in with the new. That's what my mom used to say. She unceremoniously threw out obsolete items and welcomed all that was new and vibrant. And when someone she loved died, she spent a lot of energy focusing on only the good times.

As I walk in the dichotomy of my flower beds, I think of how all of nature prepares us for the inevitable flow of life. As one bloom fades, another readies itself to take its place. 

My grandfather passed this to George and George passed it to my husband. My mom's bloom faded into mine and I, in turn, will fade into the blossom of the next generation. 

But that's only if I do it right. If my George finds a Ron the way my mom found me. My mom prepared me for all of it. To be the bloom that replaces hers. To hold both the past and the present in the garden of my life. To spend my energy on what grows and let go of what dies. 

This is my mother's garden.