The week before this last big snowstorm, bulbs were pushing up shoots in my garden because it had been rainy and warm. I associate my mother with flowers. Today would have been her 87th birthday. I remember her standing in her backyard garden in shorts and a worn out t-shirt when she was 74, wearing her yellow gardening clogs that looked like Dutch “wooden shoes,” spade in hand and hair streaked with potting soil. She had a slate walking path through her flower garden that her little grandchildren loved to skip along. By early summer, the garden was an exuberant profusion of giant zinnias, peonies, columbine, Gerber daisies and other bright joys. Her tables and her cakes were bedecked with fresh flowers from her garden.
My mother’s given name was Helene, which my grandmother felt was glamorous, but by the time she was in college at NJ College for Women (later Douglass College at Rutgers), she was known as “Lanie.” In June, 2000, Mom proudly marched with her classmates behind her class banner at Douglass’ Kirkpatrick Chapel as they celebrated their 50th reunion.
A great supporter of the performing arts, my mother loved to attend performances of modern dance, ballet, symphonies and chamber music. Museums, sculpture gardens and craft shows were favorite destinations as well. The gifts she brought for our birthdays were often one-of-a-kind handcrafted treasures.
I miss her a lot. But whenever I am walking through a fabulous garden, I feel her spirit walking right there with me.
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