Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 4, 2003


I wish I could talk to Mama when my flowers are blooming


            Mama loved flowers. She grew flowers. She knew flowers. Both her thumbs were green.

            Her yard was not small, covering more like an acre around our country home. Flowers were everywhere, as were hanging baskets, dozens of them. Amidst green ferns, there were always baskets of flowering plants swaying in the breeze.  

            Mama loved to work in the yard. Coming back home, over the years, I could always expect to find Mama in her precious yard, defending her plants against the evil weeds.

            Her children, and her grandchildren, all remember how she recruited us to serve in her war against the nut grass and weeds that tried to choke her flowers.

            We thought she would slow down when she had a hip replaced. But we were wrong. Unable to kneel, she sat in a chair and continued to tend her flowers.

            Once she fell and could not get up. Daddy was so deaf he could not hear thunder by that time, so her call for help went unheeded for two hours. Still, she refused to quit working outside.

            My siblings and I freely admit we have never known a more determined woman. If she had ever tried to climb Mt. Everest, she would have made it to the summit.

            In her sixties, she accidentally spilled hot paraffin on her right hand and arm. Months of painful, tedious therapy were necessary before she could use that hand again.

            That injury kept her out of her flower beds are awhile, but it did not stop her. Her pen pals needed to hear from her, so she learned to write with her left hand!

            She had a green house for years, to guard her tender plants during the winter. Then, almost as if to honor her for her devotion to flowers, Daddy built her a huge green house, twice as big as most garages. In it he installed a sprinkler system and a gas heater. She loved it as much as her kitchen.

            For several years, Mama advertised and sold some of her flowers by mail, and to people who came to the house. She used the name, “Carrie’s Garden,” and we all liked it, though nobody called her Carrie. Her friends called Caroline, which was in fact her name.

            In the spring and summer, when my flowers are blooming, I wish so much that I could talk to Mama. I depended on her to know the names of so many flowers. She was a reservoir of information.

            Outside my study window there grows a sturdy running rose bush. For several days, it has blessed me with clusters of beautiful, cascading white booms. Is this a floribunda rose?

            Since its stems are over six feet high, hanging gently on a trellis, it is probably a grandiflora. The flowers of grandifloras are larger, and the stems grow much taller than the floribundas. Mama would know.

            Mama loved to show off her amaryllis plants. The appearance of an amaryllis bloom was always a joyous moment to share with family and friends.

            Just beyond my rose bush, peaking through some tall grass, gently shaded by the popcorn tree, are two gorgeous amaryllis blooms, bright red.

            They appeared, I think, on the first day of May. How long they will display their lovely blooms for me, I do not know. Perhaps they decided to bloom because Mother’s Day is coming up soon.

            As long as they last, they will remind me of Mama, and how much she enjoyed the amaryllis.

            I wish I could talk to Mama now that my flowers are blooming. Perhaps she knows that. I hope so. + + + +