On a sunlit Saturday morning in the fall 0f 1993, Dad and I, an empty-nester, sat together on the ground in his backyard digging up daffodil bulbs. Dad wanted to relocate the flowers to a spot where he believed they’d be happier. I was delighted when he designated a milk carton full of our finds as mine to take home and plant at my new house on the other side of Pittsburgh. I asked him what I needed to do to ensure the bulbs would flourish. “Oh, just put them in the ground. They’ll be able to find their way back up and out without any real fuss.”
The visit with my parents was low-key, just going along with their routine, eating dinner from trays in the living room, watching The Lawrence Welk Show – Dad never failed to admire the tenor’s voice or to remark on the bouncy exuberance of the honky-tonk piano player. Unique for me to be alone with them after years of having a husband and children in tow. I watched Mom and Dad share everyday life, bringing quiet joy to one another. And I gratefully embraced my container of daffodils to take along home to keep the connection with the weekend alive.
Sure enough, in April, Dad’s daffodils emerged from the soil around my north Pittsburgh mailbox, and in August Dad died and was returned to the soil in a south Pittsburgh cemetery. For three more springs those daffodils bloomed in ever increasing numbers, putting on a show that drew compliments from my neighbors. I wondered how daffodils would manage in the heat as I dug up every bulb I could find before moving to South Carolina. I carefully replanted them under the crepe myrtle tree in the enclosed back patio of our Columbia townhouse. They reappeared early and I feared for their survival, but apparently Pennsylvania’s April is South Carolina’s February. They seemed thin and small that first year, but gained in number and robustness until I hastily grabbed a few out of the dirt to take with me when I left that house and my marriage five years later.
After a year in an apartment, I found a cottage on Adella Street, moved in, planted the daffodils, and hoped for the best. When the remnants of my milk carton fully emerged, the bulbs and I had learned a lot about our abilities to adapt and thrive. With a house and yard and job and social life to manage on my own, I found little time or energy for any more labor-intensive gardening and had increasing appreciation for the resilience of the well traveled daffodils.
Dad’s South Carolina memorial relocated one more time to Cary, North Carolina, in 2010; the hardy flowers now stand proudly in my newest front yard where I can regularly enjoy them and our independence. Let us hope that we all keep finding our way back up and out without any real fuss.
By Lynne Sparrow (OLLI Member & OLLI Writer’s Group) Lynne rummages around the recesses of her ever-suspect memory for humorous and transforming experiences, people who mattered and made her think, and places that carved lasting impressions on her character, and then turns it all into memoir. Born and educated in Pennsylvania, she has lived in numerous states, traveled abroad several times, raised a family, and had a few short stories published in an on-line magazine, Persimmon Tree. Lynne’s been an enthusiastic and grateful participant in the OLLI Writers Group since retiring and relocating to Cary, North Carolina, in 2010.