I drove back to the rabbitpatch on Saturday . . in the rain. I had been away a full week, and was only home several days, before that. The rain was light and did not hinder me. I always think of Mama, when I am driving in rain, for Mama loves to “ride in rain”.
Besides knowing the rabbitpatch was bound to need tending, besides missing my son, Christian-and the boxer, it was Fathers’ Day on Sunday. Mama and I had made plans to share a meal, as this was the first observance since Daddy passed in April.
April seems like yesterday . . .and sometimes it seems like years ago. I think of Daddy all the time. I thought of him at the beach, last week. I think of him when I am watching birds – or the grandchildren. He seems to be alive in my thoughts and I am likely to say “Isn’t the day so beautiful, Daddy?” as I am hanging clothes on the line. I feel like he is with me and that death could not part us . . . but Fathers’Day will not allow me to saunter through the day without facing the harsh truth . .that Daddy really died.
I planned the meal carefully, of Mamas’ favorite dishes, omitting any reminders of what Daddy would have wanted. Maybe next year, we will be able to eat barbecue . . .but this year we are having ham and potato salad, garden peas and cheese biscuits.
If you have ever had a loss, then you know that the first year of holidays, is always the hardest. Knowing this fully, I made up my mind, to rise with gladness on Sunday and start cooking, which is a favorite hobby for me. That worked for at least a few minutes. It didn’t help, that large and slow drops of rain fell, outside. I tried to console myself, remembering that Daddy was well, now and not suffering . .that I had my Daddy for sixty-one years and that he was now, in the Presence of God, for “goodness sakes!” It did comfort me to consider all of that, but I did not ponder a single thing as I peeled the potatoes.
While everything cooked, I toured the rabbitpatch. The Cape Jasmine is in full bloom. I intend to root some of them, this year, It was not a good year for irises, but the hydrangeas are beautiful The territory is as green as it has ever been, on this first day of summer. Along the edge of the woods, the rose-of Sharons bloom and the so do the fragrant butterfly bushes. There were also the wild honeysuckle vines cascading their delightful tendrils of blossoms. The boxer stopped whenever I did, to look closely at a blossom, but his eyes darted here and there-on high alert . . . just in case, a wild rabbit dared cross our path.
I love dogs-but mine especially. Cash is as loyal a friend, as can be. He does not care about trends or pomp or status . . .or any of the trivial things, that humans tend to dwell on. . .therefore, he does not wear clothes or have his nails painted. I like dogs, just the way they are, as he likes me the same way. He does not care, that I am letting my silver hair shine or that my skin is weathering daily. He does not base his admiration for me on my salary, nor have an opinion about my faults. A dog just loves and serves . . .and they are good company.
When the caramel apple cobbler was ready , I left for Mamas’. I know that everyone will be as pleased, as I was, that we had a delightful visit and it seemed to be, it was just what we both needed. After supper, we strolled around the yard to look at her flowers. I do not know if this is a southern custom or a “ladies custom” but I remember as a child, walking with Mama and Grandmama to see my great grandmothers’, flowers,whom we called “Mama Hodges-at the close of every spring and summer visit. I did not like the walk as a child, for Delores and I had to stay within their sight at all times so we had to abandon any form of mischief. But . . We also needed to stay out of earshot , so we could not hear the hushed tones of the women. As Mama and I walked around her yard, I remembered those days , now with fondness.
The first days of summer are wonderful. The June flowers are in their glory and oh how, they sweeten the air – and there are fireflies twinkling in the evening. More and more, the stars increase in numbers and the smell of charcoal tinges the evening air, for someone is having a picnic. Meanwhile, the rabbits are feasting on clover and wild berries in the “enchanting evenings” of early summer.
I like to bring in bouquets of gardenias,-and lilies pair well with “Queen Annes’ lace. I always had some sort of arrangement for those Sunday Dinners”, which now seem like affairs of “olden times”. We never seem to know which things will become precious memories. We are prone to trying to create events that will surely be golden moments, but the truth is often, it is practices, that we remember. The habits that seem so ordinary, at the time, and surely not worthy of lasting a lifetime, somehow do. They are sweet and tender recollections, without need of embellishments.
I know for me, that I still remember playing in the shade of two massive oak trees, in months like June. I remember hanging out clothes with Mama, and picking strawberries and setting up housekeeping in the barn, when it rained . . . and the sound of my maternal grandmothers, voice, though I have not heard it in more than fifty years now.
Not every memory mat evoke gratitude, nor loveliness. I still shudder remembering the last year of my fathers’ life. . . but I can also remember the tireless care my mother gave him, the bravery my sisters’ mustered and the compassion of neighbors and friends.
The task at hand, seems to me, that we ought to hold on to, what was beautiful.