I always gave Mom flowers on her birthday. And flowers were the best present she ever gave me.
By Karen Garloch, Charlotte, N.C.
Mom's birthday present? That was always easy to figure. Like me, she shared a love of flowers. Every year I sent her a bouquet. Not that she needed more. She had a bed of irises that blossomed in the backyard of her small, Indiana farm. They were as elegant as they were plentiful, a royal purple set against green fields. “Take some,” she said. “Dig some up and plant them on the side of your own house.”
But in my yard they languished. A year passed, then two, and not one bloom appeared. I cut back all their spiky, green leaves. I was tired of seeing them so bare and lonely looking. Eventually, I dug up the bulbs and threw them away.
About that time Mom died unexpectedly. My three siblings and I sold the farm. I never went back to gaze at the irises. I just couldn’t bear the thought of seeing another family living in our home – Mom’s home.
Fall came, then winter. The following spring, as Mom’s birthday approached, I struggled with the question of how to honor her. I stared out the window at my side yard and saw a few stubborn iris stalks, tall, thin and flowerless, sprouting. I guess I must have missed some, I thought. I decided to order a bouquet as I always did, and send it to my sister. I wished so badly I could still send one to Mom. But that was impossible.
On Mom’s birthday, I backed out the driveway on my way to work. Something in the yard caught my eye. I jammed on the brakes. The irises!
One had bloomed with flowers, big and showy and purple, as lovely as they ever had been on the farm.
I smiled and turned my eyes upward. No, I could no longer send flowers to Mom. But somehow, she’d been able to send them to me.