Weeding Our Life

Something About Nothing from my column in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 28, 2017

I love flowers. This is the time of year when the flowers are in full bloom and make our yards and countryside beautiful. The flowers try and claim their part of the soil, fighting the weeds which want to take over.

Since I am not an avid gardener, my weeding of my garden and yard are sporadic. I like to gaze at whatever green is growing in my flower beds. I try and decide in early summer and even this time of year whether what is peeking through the soil is a flower or a weed. It can get confusing because weeds can be beautiful, and if you leave them mixed with the flowers they make a conglomeration of color. But, it is a careful balance in my untrained eye as to whether you can leave the pretty weeds or take the chance they will take over your plants and smother the life out of them.

Roses are gorgeous but they have thorns hidden away on their stem waiting to give you a prick of awareness if you grab them the wrong way. You find out quickly beauty is not all it seems to be. It can be dangerous but not deadly. Unfortunately, there are those weeds which masquerade as a beautiful flower and have a fatal bite if one tries to taste it.

The poison hemlock plant and water hemlocks may be mistaken for a variety of edible plants, fooling one with their looks. And the beauty of the oleander might tease people into touching it but if used as a stick or if burned can bring a strong person down.

Before the majestic beauty of a big giant hogweed entices you to pick it beware — once it entices you into its touch it can sting with a burn and even cause blindness.

As I was thinking about the mixture of weeds and flowers one morning I was reminded that our life too can be full of beautiful weeds and they give us no warning they are about to strike.

Inside each of us resides a sting of sorts which we hide under our words. We may look like beautiful ordinary flowers on the outside but we sting, wound and raise deadly venom with our words when others least expect it.

We’ve all had those instances where a friend or family member wounds us with their words when we least expect it. The flower we love has thorns. Since we know these people well we are aware exposing our hearts to the beauty of family and friendship will give us a prick a time or two when we reach out. But the beauty of their love and our love, just like the rose, keeps us loving, forgiving and knowing it is worth the prick for the sharing of lives.

In amongst the roses of our lives are those pretty weeds lurking — food which tempts us with its smell and tempting sight, store ads which give us credit and coupons and entice us in making us buy more? Promises from entities show us life can be better if we follow their vision and then once we are drawn in they morph and change from something of beauty to a strange looking creature.

Being a novice gardener comes with hazards. I am drawn to the beauty, and I touch without thinking about the consequences of the temptation of what I see.

I think flowers and weeds can mimic life. People can be flowers and weeds all mixed together in a jumble, trying to make sense out of life. We become disillusioned if what we see is not what we get. We are surprised that we blindly chose the weed and got burned or poisoned. And we shouldn’t be, because we jumped to conclusions, talked, made choices without doing our homework to find out the toxins or the antidotes if we suffered the consequences of our bad choices.

I have weeds inside of me. It is hard to kill those weeds. Some of my inside weeds I might want to survive because weeds are tough. They combine with the flowers inside of me so I don’t bend and break. The words I use and hear can fuel the flowers or the weeds, and if there becomes an imbalance between the loving words and the toxic words it might determine how I feel and how I treat others on a given day. They are connected, just as we are all connected. We can be each other’s flowers and weeds. It depends on what fertilizer we use.

A Mother’s Hands

imageI have my mother’s hands. When I look at my hands today I see my mother’s hands. How did it happen? Where did the time go? My hands have aged into my mother’s aged hands that I remember.

My mother’s hands were not the hands of many women of her day or of today. In her older years her hands were gnarled with arthritis and bumpy from broken fingers and broken bones and wear earned during her years of hard work. My mother had a worker’s hands. She wasn’t afraid to use her hands to dig in her garden, help take care of the farm animals and scrub floors or do other tasks. She often wore gloves and she used lotion religiously, but still her hands were dry and cracked, and her skin as she got older thinned out and bruised easily. I remember looking at her hands and listening to her explanation that nothing she did to take care of them made a difference.

I don’t have worker hands or at least I don’t work as hard as my mother did at manual labor. I too use lotion and try and do the best I can to take care of my hands, but they are my mother’s hands. The skin has thinned with age and they bruise easily. My knuckles show the signs of aging and creaky bones. It doesn’t matter how much lotion I use, if I skip a day my hands become dry and bleed easily. When I look at my hands and see my mother’s hands, it brings me comfort and the blessing of memories.

I was an only child. My mother and I didn’t always see eye to eye. I didn’t understand her and she didn’t understand me. I didn’t always treat her the way she should have been treated but there is one thing we both knew through all our trials and that is our love bound us together through the good and bad.

Mother’s Day is this week, and I miss my mother on Mother’s Day. I don’t think I ever missed a Mother’s Day with my mother. I might not always have spent the entire day with her, but we did see each other on Mother’s Day. And even through my busy life and move, we talked every week — a couple times a week.

My mom didn’t really care about gifts. What she cherished the most was seeing and hearing from her grandchildren on her special days and during the week. To her those were her gifts.

As I ponder Mother’s Day in 2016 I want to offer a little advice for those younger whose busy lives lead them in other directions away from home. I have heard the words in conversations with others, “Oh, my kids are busy. They don’t have time to call. I understand that because they are busy with work and family. They have their life. It’s OK because I want them to be happy and they are so stressed I don’t want to add to it.”

Those words are words of love from a mother’s heart because that is what mothers do, they sacrifice for their children even after their children have left home. Mothers put aside their feelings because they love their family. Until you become a parent and reach older age you might not understand the love it takes for an older parent to put aside feelings on special days because they want their children to have it easier.

As a daughter I would give anything to be able to pick up the phone each week and talk to my mother. I would give anything to be able to ask her about her day and her week. I would give anything to be able to tell her I love her and I am sorry for all the times I didn’t take time to listen to her if only for a few minutes.

The best gift you can give your mother on Mother’s Day is the gift of a call and the promise you will take time to call regularly throughout the year. Ask her about her life and what she is doing. Show an interest in her day-to-day activities. Even in our older age we need someone to be interested in what we are doing. That’s all a mother wants is to be shown a little love and given a little time, even if it is a few minutes on the phone. The next time you think about telling your mom you haven’t called because you are too busy, remember that time waits for no one and there will come a day when you call, and she is no longer able to answer.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. I wish you the gift of feeling loved and cherished because you had and have the most important job in the world, that is raising up children in the way they should go.

As I look at my hands and remember my mother’s hands I still feel the love of a touch, the hands on my brow when I was sick, the feel of her hug and the squeeze of her hand giving me assurance. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven, Mom. I love you, and I love the heaven line to talk to you. It is never busy.