It was Mother’s Day, one of the specific days of the year I stop and realize how much I miss my mom. Of course, I miss her every day. But it has been so long that I honestly do not feel as hurt or empty as I once did. On certain days, her anniversary, her birthday, the holidays, and of course Mother’s Day I feel it again, and I begin to dwell again.
Every Mother’s Day was the same growing up. It was the day that my brother and I would help mom in the garden and we were not allowed to complain. This was her day, and after doing so much for us throughout the year we were expected to focus on her for Mother’s Day.
Years of shoveling mulch, planting flowers, and fixing the large planters outside under the May sun. At the moment I hated it, it was hot, I was sweaty, and kids do not like being told what to do.
I have never had a green thumb. Everything I try to grow seems to die. My mom was the exact opposite and she made our yard look like a fairy paradise. Flowers and fruit trees would line the driveway, large pots would sit on the stoop with elaborate arrangements, hydrangeas would take over the side yard. It all looked fantastic and I would love to crawl under those large leaves and spend the day hiding.
I remember her in her dirty jeans, kneeling in the dirt with a pair of sheers in her back pocket. She gets it from her mom, who still tells me that she is in her garden moving plants around. These two women seem to be able to make anything grow and here I am proud that I was able to get a magnolia to sprout on my desk in my downtown Chicago office on Earth Day.
Do not get too excited, it lived for a few days then when I neglected to replant it in a real pot it ended up dying.
After mom passed my dad and I tried to keep up the indoor plants and come the first Mother’s Day we were in the yard with his mom trying to plant the flower boxes. But, we did not know what we were doing and nothing ended up making it. We asked the local nursery what type of plants would work well exposed to so much sun, but it was still no use.
The closest I have come to successfully keep something green alive was in college and I decided to keep a basil plant. It actually lasted all year long and it was an amazing year for pesto. I even brought it home with me during Christmas break because no one would have been able to water it. I felt so triumphant. However, when I tried to move it again over the summer it ended up taking a turn. That was the last time I attempted to make something live.
On days where the loss of my mom is at the forefront of my mind, I rarely want to be alone. I was lucky enough that my friends were still able to come to dinner this Sunday to keep me focused on the support system I have built in Chicago.
We dined like kings this week, focusing on the Lion of Lannister to inspire our meals. This family who once seemed to own the world of Westeros. The family that clawed and schemed their way to the top. The family who gave up everything to achieve what they wanted. Draped in gold they held their power, breading fear to gain respect and dined on the richest food money could buy.
Gracing my table this evening was going to be a pork chop drizzled with a rich cocoa sauce flavored with cherries and red wine while finishing with a subtle heat of dried chilies. I could not pass up the opportunity to embrace the family’s colors, I knew gold and red was going to make a beautiful drink. A mango slushie spiked with smokie mezcal and topped with a port float, called The Blood of My Enemies, seemed perfect to me!