Today is the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death. To mark the occasion, we had a little party at the house where she spent most of her adult life. It went well (no knock-down drag-out rows, no court cases) and this morning there’ll be a Mass at St Columcille’s church in thanksgiving.
There’s a tinderbox of reasons why it took so long to get over her loss to our family, but thanksgiving will be given this morning for the fact that at long last we have. Most everyone believes their mother was the bestest in the whole world and when she died at 56 years of age, it was a catastrophe. For me, because she was an oak tree to my scutch grass, for her wider family and friends because she was so young, so vibrant, so lovely.
In preparing for the get together, I went through some old photographs that narrated her life in this house, the rented house she and my dad lived in before this was built, and found to my surprise a potted history of her favourite plants and successes.
There are few photos of the rented house in North Street they lived in till 1966, but two from 61 and 62 made me smile. The first depicted a small garden that was treated as a yard, with a shed, some building debris and very little lawn as a backdrop to my dad posing with a fine-looking greyhound. A year later the second picture shows the garden with grass, no rubble, a neat shed and a toddler. The greyhound mustn’t have delivered on the early promise. (Neither did the toddler mind you, but hey! 🙂 )
Back to the garden here and a lot of her planting has survived. The Boston Ivy along the north wall was what she settled on after a series of experiments with clematis. The laburnum she planted to echo the one in her own mother’s house got taken out when the gate got widened, so I’ve to find a spot for a new one. The climbing roses she planted beside the dining room window got taken out when the renovations were done in 2005, but were replaced with two new ones.
Her pride and joy, the Philadelphus or mock orange is thriving and still producing delicate fragrance every May. Her hydrangeas are my pride and joy and still provide the first blast of colour you see upon entering the garden, and muted colour in the dried blooms that keep the summer flag flying indoors throughout the winter.
Her aubretia pops up somewhere every summer, as does a small deep purple flower with almost black leaves, it returns with such vigour it’s almost ground cover for any spot that’s left alone for five minutes.
Indoors, I don’t have any of her spider plants or busy lizzies, but I’ve kept an asparagus fern on the go that’s moved with me wherever I went (and replaced liked Trigger’s sweeping brush, with tuftier, younger versions whenever the strings got too long, wan and matted).
I’m a whizz with parsley – yes, that’s the stuff that could probably grow on Mars with no help from a gardener – and have a regular selection of mints, coriander, thyme and rosemary that, like hers, gets used in the kitchen.
There’s a kerria now in the spot she used for sunbathing, and its burst of yellow pom-poms are just about to happen this year.
The guests at her party seemed pleased with the garden’s most recent incarnation (I’d to keep them out of the front garden, which is an unmitigated pig’s ear) and we had a happy afternoon reminiscing about her.
Years ago when she was fed up coaxing me to do something or other she wryly mentioned that she’d go out and do a handstand with joy when it got done. At one point during the party of her family and friends, I got a picture in my mind of her doing cartwheels and handstands in heaven.