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Better Moms and Gardens

Sun Advocate publisher

It's hard to describe a mom in any kind of objective terms because for most of us our mothers are so close to us that it is hard to look at them without some kind of rose colored glasses on.

So I won't try to be neutral at all.

But this Mother's Day we should all reflect on what our mothers mean to us. Of course that will be very different for each person, and certainly a deciding factor will be if you still have your mom around.

In my case, my mother has been gone from this world for 17 years, yet she still lives in my heart and my mind daily. Whenever I have a decision to make, especially when it involves the choice between right and wrong, I have to think of what my mother would have said to me if I had asked her advice. I have often claimed to people that I had the best mom in the world, but then it's hard to separate her greatness from my dads because they were such a wonderful team.

Always supportive, seldom negative about what I wanted to do with my life, my mother and father were always there; even when I hadn't paid much attention to them for some time.

For me my mother was best at guidance; she knew how to guide me down a good path, one that would prove to be the right one even if she didn't have the answer up front.

In the 50's and early 60's when I was a little boy she was the savior of everything for me. My dad worked long hours on the dairy farm we lived on, and she was the one I turned to to answer my questions about life. She always seemed to have the right answer.

Today's moms seem to have to play so many more roles than women with young families in those days did. Yet I think life was just as complicated for them, just in a different way.

My mother did not work outside the home, and to be honest most of my friend's moms didn't either. My mothers pride didn't come from a career or how much money she made, but from her house, her yard and her families accomplishments.

My dad had the real green thumb in the family; he could grow anything faster, bigger and better than anyone I have ever known.

But my mother loved her flowers. And with his help they always had lovely gardens in various places around the yard.

I remember going to the store with my dad and her on a Sunday afternoon early in the spring to buy flowers. We walked around Grand Central's garden supply area and looked at all the kinds available. She took great pride in picking out the right ones that day. Dad never quibbled about flowers, only about vegetable garden plants they picked out, because that was his domain.

We drove home with the back seat and the trunk of my dads green 1959 Rambler covered with colorful blooms. I had to sit up front with my parents because there were so many. As soon as we got home, the plants were unloaded and my dad set off for the vegetable garden and my mother took her flowered gloves and a small shovel and started planting flowers in beds around the yard.

As she did that I took out some of my toy trucks and played in the dirt alongside her imagining a huge jungle growing around the rubber vehicles I guided through the dirt.

I was probably a very irritating kid. No one knew what hyperactive meant then, but I am sure I was that. Yet my mom patiently planted flowers and straigtened up after me until I got tired of playing in the dirt and went into the house to read a comic book.

I do remember her talking to me though while she put the plants in the ground. She described to me the flowers in her native land of Holland, the place from which she and her family had imigrated from so may years before. She had just been a little girl then, but she remembered the colors and how entire fields of tulips and daffodils looked as they walked by them near her native town of Rotterdam.

Sometimes in describing things to me she would fall into her native language, largely because she still spoke Dutch with her sisters on the phone a couple of times a week.

On that particular day she did that a lot for some reason, so there were many things I didn't understand. But what I did know was that my mom, a city girl for much of her early life, loved this country, it's freedom and it's beauty more that anyone could imagine. Her memories of Holland were important to her, but her love for America, and us, surpassed anything else she had ever had in the old country.

The single thing she said to me that day, when she was nearly done planting the myriad of flowers that had been purchased, and that has stuck with me for the past 47 years was, "These flowers are like people; they come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. But they are all beautiful."

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