This gorgeous bearded Iris starts as a bulb and has been dug up probably six times and moved in card board boxes by my mama, Edna Jenkins Jones and then by me to every home I’ve lived in. Every May it blooms victoriously after the long winter, and rainy spring to make a glorious showing. These iris are my spring of hope and love and everything I feel towards my mama are in that purple glory because I know how much she loved flowers and tended to them like an English professionally trained gardener.
I was 21 and working at Glaxo In RTP. On this particular June day, my husband was in his first day of three, in his pharmacy board exams. It was 3 in the afternoon, I had been praying for him all day , because he had been preparing for these boards for six months. We had been married for 6 months and living in Chapel Hill. The next week we were to pack up and leave chapel hill and become real people away from college life, no studying for him and no traffic and super early mornings for me heading to the Research triangle. I had one more week working in Regulatory affairs for Glaxo, where we perfected the package inserts for newly to be released drugs. That day at 3, my phone rang and it was my father crying saying that my mama had taken a walk to downtown Southern Pines to library like she did many days, only to return complaining of not feeling well and then falling in the kitchen having a seizure and being rushed to the hospital.
Screeeeeeecccchhhh… everything became different on that day forever… plans changed, lives changed. Dreams of the next week being happy and adventurous, moving to a new place etc came to a halt.
My mama, and I still refer to her as that because I had always called her that. I’ve wondered if I would have referred to her as mom as I aged, but she was my mama at 21, and one of the healthiest and fit women for 61 that I knew. She was a walker but a daily jump roper!!! My mama loved to jump rope and always claimed it was the best exercise you could do in a short amount of time to work your whole body; arms, legs, heart etc. But how do you keep your brain healthy enough to stop a tumor from growing???
You can’t… Glioblastoma is the worst kind of brain tumor and we soon found out that day that the cause for my mom’s seizure was caused by something showing up in aCAT scan on her brain. I had to notify my husband after his boards were over that day that I was driving to moore co. hospital and told him thru historical that I was on the way there to see my mama.
The next day, my mom was transferred to the VA hospital in Durham. My mama had been a navy wave in WW2 and she and my dad always received exceptional care at the VA when they were sick. The good thing about this was that it was free which was first and foremost because 3 years prior my dad had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and had been unable to work for quite sometime. Money had always been an issue and continued to be, but I praise the care my parents received there.
After surgery to try and remove the tumor we found out that it was inoperable and that she had a year to live. All I could think of when I was told that was , my mama will not see my children one day… That killed me.
After two long years later… and a million stories, heartaches, pain, sadness, blame, angry days, resentment good days, family arguments, family hugs, that I could write into this blog but I will omit, my mama was let out of her misery on May 2 1987. On that day, as I drove up to the small home, I was struck by how beautiful her flowers appeared outside the very old and badly needing repairs home. Those iris were standing straight and reaching upward. I knew that they would be the only flowers I wanted at her funeral. I would do a huge arrangement for the alter with all of her flowers that she did not get to see blooming this particular year.
The tumor was sitting on the optical part of her brain, so her vision which had been 20/20 all of her life was taken from her for the most part. Her two loves, flower gardening and reading were taken from her those two bad years. Bad does not seem the appropriate word to describe those two years. I lived an hour away, where my husband became a pharmacist and I became a manager of Estée Lauder at a brand new Belk store. I had Wednesday’s off and every Wednesday would head to southern pines to be with my mama.
The ironic thing is now, on this May 2, I am working in a florist! My mama would be beside her self with happiness at this discovery.
Do not hesitate letting the people you love know how much you love them. I am vowing to myself this year, to live my best life. Be healthy, be thankful and to pray daily.
Nothing or no one can replace your mama. No one will ever love you like you have been loved by your mama. I’ve told my kids that a thousand times. It’s so true. I would always call my mom and she would say, “well Hi shug… what are you up to today?” She marveled in everything I did and thought I was just the best! Any idea I had even if she thought it different, she would say, “well that may be exciting”. She was my number one cheerleader, best friend and the person I worried about the most. I miss her dearly, but as I went out this morning at first light to look at my Iris garden I felt her saying …
“Well, hi shug, what are you doing today??
I’m picking up your two grand grandsons which you would love beyond belief mama and taking them to school and then I’m going to go this afternoon to the flower shop and make beautiful flower arrangements. She would say..
“That sounds just perfect …. “.
And life with flowers and grandkids is… they are both perfect..
thank you God for this day..
I love you mama ….