Yesterday my Mom and I spent the day together. We went to our book club, then after loading up my step-father's SUV and, donning our gardening clothes and our baseball caps ( I was wearing the lucky Manchester College hat that, toward the end of his life, my Grandpa took to wearing to protect his balding head from the sun), looking like a renegade Hoosier version of Thelma and Louise, armed only with spade and shovels, we descended on my former home (where my dear friend is living now, and actually moving from in a few weeks). The reason for our trek--to rescue all the perennials I tended and nurtured while I lived there from the certain fate of being torn out and paved over to become yet more parking for the nearby (fundamentalist) church which bought the house. You know the line, "paving paradise to put up a parking lot..." and all that.
On the way there it rained, and it was cold, cold for May--temperatures in the 50s. We watched the sky ominiously, and my mother, ever the optimist would say periodically, "Look, it's clearning over there, I think..." I'd furrow my brow and say, "Well, maybe..." (thinking, "Yeah, clearing sort of like the sky did before whisking Dorothy away to Oz..."). But, lo and behold, we pulled into North Manchester and the rain...it stopped. My Mom said, "See?" as if she were not the least surprised..."It stopped." "Yeah it Did!" I replied dubiously, waiting for the next shower. Didn't come. Until WE DROVE HOME. I credit my Grandpa, the consumate lawn man, for watching over us from his lofty perch atop some cloud somewhere, and his daughter, who is ever so hopeful, and sees the glass half-full on a regular basis.
We pulled out perennials--yarrow, hostas, lambs-ear, lady's mantle, phlox, daisies, poppies, coneflower. We were, oh-so-ambitious. We hauled big-ass stones to edge my new flower beds (picture two very short women in baseball hats, covered in mud trying to pick up boulders..."Bend from the waist...Okay, um, Mom...we can't lift this one." General laughter as we imagined what the neighbors were thinking). It was a day. We were exhausted. We came home and celebrated with carry-out dinner from our favorite local Italian restaurant, and then retired to separate bathtubs to take steaming hot baths to wash off the dirt and ease our sore biceps and backs.
On the way home, we said to one another, "Aren't we having fun?" (which was my Grandma Soderstrom's stock question whenever we took her for an outing). We were. We did. And somehow in the midst of that day, intermingled in plant roots and raindrops, my grandparents were alive with us again, a true Mother's Day gift.
We are from hearty stock. Formed from my Grandpa's love of nature, his consumate craftmanship of tending plants and shrubs (which were often a perfect circle, like little balls dropped by a benevolent God in a straight line in front of his house), and from the optimism of my Grandma, who believed wholeheartedly in the goodness of the universe, and of people, and of her God, my mother and I live and breathe their lessons as naturally as we inhale oxygen.
It was a perfect Mother's Day.
I love you, Mama. I'm proud to be your daughter.