Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Turtles and Roses

My nearly 8 year old loves his art class in school. He looks forward to it every week. For a long time he has been letting me know he has been hard at work on a sculpture. "It's a surprise for you Mom." I envisioned some Star Wars, weapon or sports related creation which would reflect his current passions. Wrapped carefully in an egg crate and stuck to construction paper was a turtle. My mother collected turtles. After her death, my brother and I stopped counting the turtles at around 200+.

A few days later, my nearly four year old asked me a question about this rose. "Did Mee Maw gived dis rose to you, Mommy?" Mee Maw was my mother. He met her three times, twice as an infant and once as a two year old. Caden's sum total experience with my mom is found in a picture on the fridge and stories I and my father may have shared. Yet, out of the blue, he asked me if my Mother had given me this rose.

I don't ascribe to the idea the dead have some sort of ghostly spirit-net through which they communicate to us once they slip this mortal coil. If so, we would all be mad with the white noise produced by the millions who have gone before us. If so, why would they only communicate in incomprehensible whispers and flick flash lights on and off?

I do however, believe that the One who created us speaks to us all the time. Of course He would want to. I like to speak to my kids and the people I love, so why wouldn't He?

With this in mind, I take these two events as a Heavenly reminder that my mother's presence in our lives mattered and reverberates into the future. My mothering has been affected by my own mother. I want to emulate her ability to always be there for the important things. She never missed a performance, a concert or a competition. I don't know how she did it, as my Dad was often deployed and gone, but she managed to always be the one to chaperone the field trip or be in the front row. I make efforts to ensure my kids are celebrated and never have a reason to doubt my love for them.

The rose came back from being cut to nothing last year following a funky infestation. This year it's blooming early and beautifully. (In the picture is a garden turtle sculpture we brought from my mother's house.) As the rose has come back, so am I from the depression, anxiety and a painful past.

I said in my mother's eulogy that she was like the turtles she collected. Tough on the outside but soft on the inside. She may have taken her time to do things, but she always crossed the finish line. I too often charge ahead and lay waste to time, resources (and my health).

I, like mom and her beloved turtles, need to slow down, toughen up on the outside and soften up on the inside. I can now, literally and figuratively, stop and smell the roses.

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