Mother's Day

May 17, 2024

Happy belated Mother’s Day!

I really struggled to write this blog post. I was going to write on Mother’s Day, and then became bogged down in just one too many thoughts that have not been completely percolated, then drug my feet, then just didn’t write, and that’s the worst feeling ever for a person who is working on writing. So, I’ll make a pivot and just quote my friend Sheryl, “Mother’s Day, the day of unmet expectations.” I’ll also take my friend Lisa’s advice and let this topic wait for another time.

The pivot, the beauty of May. We’ve had an unusually mild winter and a blessedly wet spring with enough rain, so this May has been bursting with life. I know a lot of people complain about Minnesota and the cold, but the thing about the cold is that one appreciates the warmth even more when the seasons do allow for the baring of flesh that has not known heat from an outdoor source in six months.

On 32nd Street, for approximately six blocks, the city of Minneapolis planted flowering apple trees on both sides of the street. They burst into bloom for about 2 glorious weeks in May and then they’re done. Much like the cherry blossoms in Japan, they are a short-lived celebration for the senses. Unlike the cherry blossoms in Japan, Americans do not sit under them while unpacking picnic lunches to enjoy snacks and gaze up at the blossoms that are framed by a vernal blue sky. That is actually really sad, it would do us all good to slow down and meditate upon the fleeting beauty that these fragile petals reveal.

My own mother is struggling. I don’t know how much time I have with her, so the beauty of these blooming trees has an even more profound meaning and perhaps why I was struggling so much to write about Mother’s Day. After one of Mom’s appointments, we drove around her town in search of blooming apple trees. We oohed and ahhed over each one we saw. I pulled the car over to let other cars pass so that we could drive very slowly down the quiet streets with manicured lawns, calmly admiring the announcement of spring.

It’s hard to keep the grief in check as I see her crumpled little body and her shiny white hair turning to take in the beauty around her. It’s just hard to be a caregiver and a daughter. Sometimes, I selfishly just want to be the daughter. But just as the petals are here one day in all of their glory, they are gone too quickly. All I can do is take it in and enjoy it all for what it is.

As we were slowly making our way through town, I was reminded of Uejima Onitsura’s saying on cherry blossoms.

And so the spring buds burst, and so I gaze,
And so the blossoms fall, and so my days…

May you be blessed to be a witness to all that is blooming this spring and hold it close to your heart.