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(Grand)Mother May I

As a little girl begging to go barefoot, my mom was told that she had to pick an Easter basket full of dandelions before she could venture out without her shoes.

Isn’t that brilliant? Not only would those prolific flower heads get removed from the yard, but mom and her sister would learn – if only by folklore – that the ground had to warm up considerably for dandelions and other spring bloomers to make their grand entrance. Now we rely on Weatherbug and all the many apps we have to know the ground temperature, the forecast, the best time to plant, the moon cycles, the pollen count.

But Grandmom knew best.

Those were the good ‘ol days when feeding the chickens, canning vegetables, making a homemade blueberry pie weren’t ‘craftsy’ they were necessity. I never really knew this post-Depression era homemaker. By the time I got to know Grandmom, she was all powdery and squishy and hugged us just a little too long. While we loved her homemade Sunday dinners, we grandkids spent most our time running around the homeplace; playing hide and seek among the boxwoods and dogwoods, trampling her hydrangeas and peonies. I couldn’t have told you the difference between an iris and a lily, but she could.

When grandmom and grandad passed and the homeplace finally sold, I was lucky to get a few of those plant slips. I remember planting her lilies on the side of my house and, while I hadn’t seen her in a decade, those shoots carried memories of that lovely lady. Now a mother myself, memories of my grandmom shifted from old and wrinkly to steadfast and supportive. Sure, she like to soak her tired feet and tell us kids to ‘keep it down,’ but putting my hands on her lilies reminded me of all the sacrifices she made for us.

Oh how I wish she could see that her prayers were answered. That while I did everything in my power to avoid being enveloped in her arms then, now I treasured any little piece of her I could get my hands on; that I love gardening and that I love the Lord.

On this May Day - a celebration of spring celebrated with parades and pageants in many places still - I honor my grandmom, Eula Lee Mohler, a lifelong resident of Centreville, Virginia, with a simple dandelion crown. Grandmom lived in a time when dandy “lions” were a sign of spring, not a reason to get out the weed killer. She understood the natural world around her and had to capitalize on the benefits the earth brought forth. She made Sunday dinner from scratch, set the table beautifully for little kids who couldn’t care, and made us feel special but not spoiled.

This humble crown, made by poking a hole through the stem (a nail works well) and simply “threading” the flowers together, carries memories of simplicity, love and sacrifice. While Grandmom isn’t here to thank anymore, I pray my gratitude is as prolific as the dandys strewn across uncut grass and that living my life well and remembering all those lessons she taught me, is the way to carry her forth this May and EVERY day.


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