Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Is Important

She didn't know why her family always celebrated her birthday on May 28th. It wasn't until she returned to college to get her Masters and teaching credential that she announced her real birthday was December 5th.

Now that mom is gone, the date of birth is unimportant. Her legacy of how to live is.

Mom would want us to remember is to live to the words, "Love Blooms Here."

Life is like the garden. Ever changing. Full of challenge and promise.

Some things can be planned. The rose Sexy Rexy anchoring this border definitely was chosen to be where it is. However, imagine the image without the serendipity welcomed. The scene would have color; yet be sterile.

The puffs of Valerian peaking through the rose "Sexy Rexy" showed up one day, a gift from the God of birds. Dainty-appearing Feverfew was a gift of my imagination. Walking through South Coast Botanical Gardens, I admired their delicate blossoms and imagined them in my garden. That was all it took; I never bought any- the soles of my shoes must have snuck some seeds out. They are likely to pop up wherever water, sun and soil mingle.

In the mid 1990's my mother's health and safety required she move from her beloved garden. To help her adjust, I dreamed up turning a wrought iron garden arch in to a canopied headboard. The scroll work is heavier than it looks. Much heavier. It was carefully anchored to the wall so no earthquake or reaching for balance, it could not crush her.

Sunday, this garden arch, now iconic of my mother's love for the garden, will serve as part of the alter for her memorial service.

Plans for her service are being checked-off. Being casual does not mean being sloppy.

Roger McClain will serve as chaplain. Senator Bob Huff will say a few words. Manny Chavez will handle music and audio. Airport pickups coordinated to ETA's. Gerry has spent every waking moment not at work or asleep turning beautiful little mini urns as mementos for significant loved ones.

Not everything is planned. Set decorations are now in the hands of nature.

What is important is the family will be as mom wants. Together.

Top image by Gene Sasse. Used with permission.

Bottom image is of Trevor Plunk.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Planning a Garden Memorial

Mom had specific ideas about what her memorial should have. Flowers. Music. Flowers. Food. Flowers. Family. Flowers. Friends. Flowers.

Mom was, is, and always be so much of this garden. Holding her Memorial here is as natural as if it were a garden wedding.

Mom did not want a funeral. She said funerals focus on what is gone. She believed the living are who need care when a loved one leaves.

She said that when her "going away party" is held, she is already with God; laughing at what we worried about.

It wasn't until her last year of life that I was "sure" of my mother's Christian faith.

She had entered assisted living because she was not responsible for daily care for herself- yet she was capable of complex conversation on a regular basis.

What she told me on one of our visits was that she chose to be largely silent on faith, because talk is cheap. Actions are what counts.

She told me God wants us to love him; if there is no choice; it cannot be love.

Why she left the door open as to whether we should choose Christianity or not was not a matter of values, it was a matter of love.

If you have a loved one with diminished capacity; stay close. They may still have wisdom to share.

Photographs courtesy of Gene Sasse

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bathing beauty

Bathsheba looked no more beautiful to David than the Western Tanager which inspired a communal bath at the fountain yesterday.
From my kitchen window, I did my best to capture the plumage as the avian played hide and seek with the fountain finial. So beautiful. There were lots of friends splashing about; but they were more camera shy. Perhaps worried of what kind of shot the woman aiming a device at them might be.
The fountain was an anniversary gift from my mother. There were times when I thought about replacing it with something larger- something with a deeper bowl that wouldn't need to be filled so often when the weather is hot.
Now that my mother resides up-above, I am permanently at peace not to have "traded-up". Shallow water surrounded by a lip to preen on . An unobtrusive finish. Just enough water gurgling from the center to help sound where healing waters are. On the bird rating scale, such a fountain is a "10."
That my mother chose a fountain with the needs of the birds first is testament to her lasting wisdom. Manufactured fashion flies in and out of favor. When adding to the garden- function first, form follows. That is the recipe for a gift to last beyond the earthly life of the giver.
Top picture of the migratory Western Tanager is courtesy of the Royal Albert Museum of Alberta, Canada.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Good Grief

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. ~William Shakespeare
My mother loved her garden. It soothed her soul. Now it soothes mine.
Grief is like a tear- changing how we see. Magnifying, clarifying between the blinks.

It gives us the courage to slow down. Take stock of our priorities. Focus on what is important.
The first two days after my mother's death were calm waters for me. On the third day- an innocuous comment kicked my stoicism right over the proverbial cliff. Before I hit bottom - convulsions of extreme sadness rocketed the veneer of inner peace to another planet.
That isn't healthy. How to get past quickly before the damage spreads and takes hold like Hatfields and McCoys?
Go to where my mother went in times of turmoil. To the garden.
Let the tears flow. Where the heart sprung a leak at death's arrow, refill and refresh in the garden. Every healing message awaits our partaking it there.
Images are by Gene Sasse. The rose is 'Wild Blue Yonder'- Posted with permission.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

An Orphan's Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day. Today, I have felt sorry for those who wished it to me not knowing this is my first full day as an orphan.

Yesterday, surrounded by family on a beautiful spring day, my mother's spirit soared free of gravity. She left behind all pain, illness and earthly cares.

We were able to rush to her bedside after her heart attacked. We were holding hands; praying the Lord to receive her in His garden. As we finished, the woman known outside the family by combination of names she used for the chapters of her life- Ethel Maria Sepulveda Lent- her last breath quietly left her.

Be happy for my mother. Today she got something in heaven I have had the privilege of for 56 years. See- her mother died in childbirth when mom was only 2.

At long last, mom has shed her earthly identity. She will no longer be the little girl from Puerto Rico; the one there was no room at the orphanage for. Forever now, however it is that God arranges such reunions in the heaven, my mother can now get to know; to be with her own mother.

Thank you to Gene Sasse for permission to use his image of Julia Child rose blooms frothing over the edges of a Mason jar.

Friday, May 7, 2010

On Roses

Roses are like people; special for their differences.

Some, like grandifloras, have stature. Some are happiest in the country, and some prefer a more formal setting. Some are high maintenance babes. Some exceed or fall below expectations. Even though some are easier to appreciate than others- they all have beauty that can be appreciated by someone. I like friendly roses. Ones that like company. Roses who enliven the landscape. Who offer companionship to a host of other planting materials- geraniums, iris- whatever brings elevates joy to all who wander in.

Roses nurture wildlife- whether holding a hummingbird nest or protecting finches from predators while they wait for their time at the feeder- those are special just for their function even if they weren't so beautiful. I like that roses are so agreeable in a wide range of situations. I experimented by surrounding some roses in pots with some rather Xeric partners- succulents and such. The result is pleasing. The roses like that the temperature of the pots down; prevents wilting. These edgings don't melt in the summers here as quickly as more traditional partners do. So what on the face would not be recommended- in real life- it works.

Plant roses. Give them companions. Gardening is the ultimate opportunity to "color outside the lines". Roses offer the whole crayon box to play with.