Mother’s Day was a mixed bag at our house. It was confusing. It wasn’t actually Mother’s Day. It was Wife’s Day—a day for Dad to show Mom how much he loved her, with the kids playing supporting roles.
Dad would arrange for the gift—always a potted hydrangea. “You mother’s favorite flower,” my dad would explain. Then he would acquire the treat—always lemon meringue pie for breakfast. “Your mother’s favorite breakfast,” my dad would confirm. He was partly right.
After Dad passed away, I learned the whole truth. Pie was, in fact, my mother’s favorite breakfast. Lemon meringue pie was one of her favorite pies. So, Mother’s Day breakfast in bed was a treat, although a little precarious with three boys all jockeying around Dad for a little recognition.
The rest of the story was a shock. Hydrangeas were not my mother’s favorite flower.
One day I was visiting with Mom and noticed a hydrangea another son had given her was nearly dead. I said, “That plant looks pretty rough, should I water it?” Mom said, “That’s okay. You can just throw it out.”
I thought I’d misunderstood. “You want me to throw out the hydrangea? I thought that was your favorite flower,” I gasped.
“Not really.” Mom said. “Your dad thought it was. He was always so proud of finding just the right one I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I really wasn’t crazy about them. They are kind of pretty, but they take a lot of water and care. They’re a lot of trouble.” Mom may have been sentimental in a lot of ways, but plants that were a bother to keep alive were not keepsakes.
I imagine they have the hydrangea misunderstanding worked out by now. Maybe gifts aren’t necessary in heaven. Or, maybe there’s an eternal hydrangea that doesn’t need watering.
In any case, there had better be pie. Without a chance to say, “Let’s get a piece of pie,” it couldn’t be heaven for Mom.
The moral of my Mother’s Day memories would be love begets love. My dad was crazy about my mom and would do anything to make sure she had her favorite flower for Mother’s Day. Mom was crazy about Dad and would endure any number of hydrangeas to keep him feeling loved and appreciated. The ability to give and take makes a good marriage.