Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day Petunias

On Saturday, the day before Mothers Day, my dad would haul all six of us up to the Dime store in the family station wagon. We’d pile out to begin the search for small tokens of love and appreciation for mom.

My mother had a drawer full of frilly hankies with lace and mom embroidered across a corner. Since we were quite sure she could use one more, one of us usually ended up selecting a pretty hankie.

One year, the store that had everything displayed sparkling bottles in exotic shapes that simply had to hold a genie inside. My middle sister and I chose a dark green one and insisted mom would just love this gift. Mom set the genie bottle in a prominent location, which told me we’d chosen the perfect gift. Of course, at some point, the bottle found a new home in less conspicuous place.

While we each had our ideas of the perfect gift, my father knew exactly what we should buy for my mother…petunias. Outside the store lined up on the pavement were flats of annual flowers. Marigolds, alyssum, ageratum, vinca, impatiens, and begonias sat among petunias. We’d each select a box in our favorite color, so of course I chose pink petunias. Mom planted the petunias around the yard and in containers with no color scheme in mind. Red planted with purple and white stripes surrounded by pink offered a riot of color and to be honest, as children, we were pretty much a riot of chaos most of the time. With six kids running amok, what one doesn’t think of another will and those petunias in wildly mismatched colors truly were a perfect representation of each of us.

As an adult I spurned petunias as old-fashioned. I didn’t like the way they’d droop after a rain. I disliked the large trumpet flowers on such short stems. The only thing I did like about petunias was the scent…a clove, carnation like scent that brought back the charm of a childhood.

My mother passed 15 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, but today, on Mothers day, the ache to tell her one last time how much I love her is a bit more heart wrenching. Oh how I’d like to plant petunias on the edge of her garden, along the brick edging that curved to the side of the house or in a pot. Instead, I think I’ll buy petunias for the first time in my adult life in mismatched colors and with each flower I’ll remember my mom and what a blessing she was to six children.

Happy Mothers Day!


  1. You brought a tear to my eye. I lost my mother nearly 4 years ago and will miss her forever. I'm surprised she had time to do gardening with 6 of you to care for. Of course I'm sure your mom like mine was a stay at home mum and ran everything. On what we called mothering Sunday I would go to Sunday school and come home with a small bunch of violets for my mother. There were no cards and no jewelry and no perfume or any other thing they like to promote today. Just a lovely little bunch of violets tied up with a ribbon. That was enough. Thanks for a lovely post.

  2. Your post is charming! It brought back memories for me. Today's children have no idea what a hankie is. I am glad you are going to buy petunias this year.

  3. Such a beautiful post, and it sounds like I'm not the only one whose eyes filled with tears while reading it.

    Have you planted those petunias yet?


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