In this month of cancelled Proms,
the memory of mine, over
half a century ago, brims
within me—mingled emotions
still attached. I remember
my mother, at the black altar
of her sewing machine,
the painstaking arc of her spine,
face bowed over nimble hands
in a circle of light.
A sleeveless drift of floral voile
in citrus colors skimmed
the dress of our dreams—
with a matching stole: “One must,”
Mom insisted, “always be warm.”
Enter the orchid, be-ribboned
perfection, in a windowed box.
“Oh! Lucky, lucky you,”
she cried. “I’ve never had one.”
She looked so wistful.
Guilt churned. Then . . .
adolescent annoyance, alongside
the message: I was adored.
By a boy. Extravagantly.
I felt so confused.
The corsage waited, inside our fridge,
all day, until my date arrived, then
again, for days afterward: waxy, exotic,
transforming our Maytag into a garden.
Shelf life at its most literal.
Back then I knew nothing of a woman’s bone-deep loneliness. Or betrayal. What it’s like, being left for another.
But kids know when something’s amiss. And even self-absorbed teens occasionally splurge on someone else.
That year on Mother’s Day, from the top shelf of our turquoise fridge, a windowed box enclosing an orchid met Mom’s blue gaze.
She kept it for days.
Today, I see the connection, one I’ve long been living—yet missing. For years now, I’ve stashed little bouquets in the fridge, top right shelf. Each time I open the door . . . blossoms! I never remember they’re there.
Gratitude rises to the Creator, then adoration.
I feel wooed.
My mother never remarried. Never dated, as far as we know. She died, during a bygone May.
I wish I could send her orchids this Sunday. I’d say, “Oh, lucky you! Stay warm, Mama. Know you’re forever adored.”
What memorable corsage or bouquet—given or received—maintains a shelf life in your memory?
Perhaps even the smallest acts of love are fractionally akin, in a nano way, to Eternal Largesse.
Let’s romance ourselves and each other. A May bouquet might nudge us to pray for mothers worldwide amid the pandemic. And teens missing Prom this year.
Whether grocery shopping in person or online, add a few hardy carnations, mums, or alstromeria. Refrigerated, they last for weeks. Be inventive, choosing a vase. Or gather dandelions, clover, or wild violets from your lawn or neighborhood tree border. Maybe send up a prayer, each time you see them.
For more about my amazing mom: Homesick? 3 Timely Ways to Experience Healing Restoration
Orange orchids, black background: Photo by John Wiesenfeld on Unsplash
Wild tree orchid & Fridge shot: L. K.