Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 1, 2016


Spring flowers remind me of Mama


        “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” That is a famous line from the poetry of Alfred Tennyson. I suppose the British Lord was right about young men. And I can testify that it is also true for old men for spring flowers stimulate thoughts of love for my Mama.

Mama loved flowers. She grew flowers. She knew flowers. Both her thumbs were green. At one time Mama had a half acre of Daylilies. She sold some but loved to give them away to family members and friends.

Working in the yard around our country home was a passion for Mama. She turned a briar patch into a flower garden.  Flowers were everywhere, surrounding the humble home which Dad built with his own hands. Hanging baskets of green ferns and flowering plants were always swaying in the breeze. 

        Mama loved life. While Dad was out in the fields raising cattle and growing cotton and corn, Mama was busy cooking, canning or sewing – and she loved it all. But best of all she loved working in her yard. Coming home, over the years, I usually found Mama in her yard, defending her plants against the evil weeds.

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

        When the aging process required a hip replacement, we figured Mama would slow down but we were wrong. Though unable to kneel she sat in a chair and continued to tend her flowers.

        One day she fell in the yard and could not get up. By that time Dad was deaf as a post so her calls for help went unheeded for hours. Finally one of her daughters heard her and came to her rescue. Stubbornly she refused to stop working outside.

Canning food is dangerous work. But the danger did not deter Mama. One day Mama accidentally spilled hot paraffin on her right hand and arm. Months of painful, tedious therapy followed before she could use that hand again.

        Mama’s injured hand kept her out of her flower beds are awhile but she refused the role of an invalid. Her several pen pals needed to hear from her so she learned to write with her left hand! We all marveled at her grit and determination.

        Dad built Mama a small green house. There she guarded her tender plants during winter months. Then, to honor Mama’s devotion to flowers, Dad built her a huge green house with glass walls and ceiling. He even installed a sprinkler system and a gas furnace. She was so proud of her green house. Now she could really grow flowers!

        Mama advertised and sold some of her flowers by mail and to customers who came to the house. She used the name, “Carrie’s Garden,” though I never heard anyone call her Carrie. She was Caroline to her friends while her 12 siblings called her “Sister.”

        When my flowers are at their best I wish I could talk to Mama. She was a reservoir of information. Outside my study window there thrives a running rose bush, blessing me with beautiful cascading white booms. Mama could tell me if this is a floribunda rose or a grandiflora. She would know.    

        Mama enjoyed her amaryllis plants. The appearance of an amaryllis bloom was a joyous moment she loved to share with others.

        Near my rose bush, peaking through tall grass and gently shaded by a popcorn tree, are two bright red amaryllis blooms. These lovely blooms will not last long but while they last they will remind me how much Mama loved the amaryllis.

        Mama gave me a love for flowers that has enriched my life immeasurably. I wish I had expressed my gratitude to her while she was still living. Life slips by so quickly, leaving many tender feelings unexpressed, “thoughts of love” to use Tennyson’s words. So I have decided that while I have breath I will let spring flowers remind me to more boldly express the tender feelings of my heart to those dearest to me.  + + +