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Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mothers' Day

Yesterday, Hallie woke up grinning ear to ear. It was an important day for her (and us): it was her first Mothers' Day (plural...this is going to end up being an expensive holiday for Miss Hallie Rose - but we are worth it, right?!).

I swear that in this next shot (taken right after the big smile), our little girl was winking at me:

Yesterday morning was also the first time this season that the rose bush in our backyard was in full bloom. Here's a shot of that very first rose:

This is a pretty special rose bush. Sharon got it for her Nana years and years ago for Mother's Day and Nana planted it in her garden in Somers Point New Jersey. Every time the rose bush was in bloom, Nana would call up Sharon and report on how beautiful the roses looked. Sharon was touched by this but thought that it was a little odd that Nana was so taken by the small but sweet gesture of her granddaughter buying her a rose bush.

That was until we acquired the rose bush and planted it in our own garden. Nana's health was failing by the time I had the pleasure of meeting her (and Sharon); she was already past 80 and unable to live on her own. Her daughter (Jan, also known on this blog as Grammy) and granddaughters (Sharon and Aunt Laura) agonized over the decision, but eventually realized that Nan would be much safer living in an Assisted Living situation than in her own home--she had simply grown too frail and too unable to take care of herself any longer. The facility they chose was right around the corner from Aunt Laura's, and the kids (Megan and Sarah) could bike over after school to visit their great grammy.

When Jan set about to sell Nan's home, the one stipulation in the contract was that the family could dig up the rosebush and take it with them. And that is how it came to pass that Nan's Rose ended up in our Philly backyard.

Right after we transplanted the rose, we had to have the bricks in the back of our house repointed. Now this is not just any repointing--our house is very old (c. 1820s) and the kitchen/bath addition (which is where the work needed to be done) dates back to the 1880s. Back then, the bricks they used were softer and so was the mortar. We needed good masons with backgrounds in Historic Preservation (fortunately Sharon's architectural specialty) and they needed to use high-lime mortar.

A lot of that mortar ended up in the bed where the rose was planted and Sharon nearly went ballistic.

Little did we know that roses love lime and that this (plus a few miraculous touches from Nan) is why it's such a prolific bloomer.

Two years ago, due to a combination of old age, frailty and a variety of illnesses, Nan died. On the day she died, June 28th, the rosebush bloomed like it never had before: it had over 35 perfect, full roses and it looked gorgeous.

Last year, a year to the day from Nan's death, we lost our precious Olivia Skye, who was named for the great grammy she never knew. On that day, once again, our rosebush was in full bloom.

And yesterday, our first Mothers' Day, once more it was in bloom (there are another 15 or 20 roses getting ready to pop right now).

Nan's rosebush serves as a guide to us: it provides us with beauty at times of deepest sorrow and reminds us that life goes on, and that life is fleeting, all at once. It is strong and full and faithful and graces us with shade and color. And its roses are the most amazing thing I've ever seen: they start out tight and yellow tipped with flame red; they open to a soft buttery yellow color, turn hot pink as they begin to pass, and then finally turn white before they die.

So I went out in the morning with my pruning shears and, after capturing an image of that very first rose of the season, cut the rose and removed its thorns and wrapped its stem in a wet paper towel so that it would stay moist and fresh, and brought it and Hallie's card to Sharon as she began to wake from sleep.

Later on, the three of us went to Pastorius Park to picnic near Olivia's Grove. The trees were planted last fall (Sharon helped) and they have gotten a lot bigger already:

We brought a lovely lunch for ourselves and a can for Hallie to suck on. Seriously. The kid loves nothing better than grabbing at my diet coke cans and shoving the cool metal in her mouth. Unfortunately, when they are open (which they are often open since I do enjoy drinking out of them and not just licking the cans myself), this leads to spillage and the potential for cutting little fingers. So I bought Hallie her own can of soda and she seemed to enjoy it just as much:

Here's a nice couple of shots of Hallie with Sharon in the park:

Hallie's still clapping:

Hallie also enjoyed playing with (mauling, really) the pinwheel I bought her the other day:

We brought a pinwheel for Olivia to the park and Sharon planted it in front of the biggest tree in the grove:

All in all, we had a lovely yet bittersweet day on our very first Mothers' Day. It was wonderful to spend it as a family and to watch Hallie having so much fun and taking in everything but we missed Olivia even more than we usually do (which is sort of hard to imagine since neither of us ever has a moment when we don't miss Olivia Skye). It was nice to go to her grove and feel her presence and talk about her and, when Hallie is older, this will be a place where we can share our thoughts and memories of her sister with her. And it is a beautiful, peaceful park that is so full of life and I am glad that we chose it as a site for memorializing Olivia.


Sarah Furlough said...

I know Olivia's grove must be a special place for you and Sharon. I feel Logan's presence whenever I am in the Butterfly Garden.

I am so glad that you got to see Nan (& Olivia's) roses blooming on Mother's Day! I think you said it best, it is a reminder that life is precious, and fleeting.

I know you will continue to miss Olivia every day for the rest of your life together, but having Hallie must make the sting a little less. She (just like Cooper) makes the sorrowful times a little sweeter. She is a beautiful reminder of the love you and Sharon have created.

Happy belated Mother's Day to 2 great Moms to 2 amazing little girls!

Billie said...

Sorry I am so late, but Happy Mothers' Day anyhow!

It sounds like you had a beautiful day celebrating as Hallie's moms, and remembering Olivia.

That first picture of Hallie is absolutely priceless and totally made my night!


23wktwinsmommy said...

What a wonderful Mother's Day. You too are amazing and I am so happy you had a nice day.
I feel so deeply for you when I read your words about Olivia. I remember so distinctly the words that Edwin would almost surely not survive, and I must admit a part of me believed that I'd only be taking home one of my twins from the NICU. I feel so much sadness when I think about Olivia (and Sarah's Logan...p.s. I try to comment on your page and I can't for some reason.)
I am just so happy to hear you have a beautiful place to celebrate Olivia and tell Hallie all about her twin sister one day.
So, happy happy happy belated Mother's Day to you both and may the roses continue to blossom and brighten your days...

Laura said...

you have been tagged.
love you guys!