For as many seasons as I can remember, my mother winterized geraniums in the garage. Magically, after a few awkward springtime weeks, the brown shrunken stems would regain their color and strength and by mid June, I would jealously observed Mom’s plants blooming gloriously.
Many times I tried to recreate her system but always failed. My local nursery consoled me, “Don’t worry, most geraniums can’t survive a garage winter. They need ideal temperature and sunlight.” So year after year, I would grudgingly buy new flowers.
Last summer with the health challenges of my mother and death of my father, the withered geraniums stems were accidently thrown out. Losing the geraniums seemed symbolic for my parent’s lives and I mourned the loss.
All summer long, their landscape withered in the heat as we labored to repair the old sprinkling system. With limited water, somehow the shrubbery and trees endured. When fall came, I was astonished to discover the old geraniums cast down the hill, alive and thriving.
Tenderly nursing the geraniums through the winter, I marveled at the concept of resiliency. I often see clients from challenging backgrounds.
Why do some shrivel, some remain stuck and others thrive?
My mother followed my father in death last week. At ninety years of age, she was the model of resiliency. Mother was born in a log home in Dingle, Idaho and was raised during the Great Depression.
1925 was a simpler time. Money was scarce, but imaginations were rich and resourceful; Mom learned to sewed her own clothes, bake treats from scratch and play outside in nature.
Mom Was The Hardest Worker I Know
She worked her way through college and then went onto a master’s program at New York University. She was a thoroughly modern woman in the early 1950’s.
Eventually, Mother returned to the west and began a catering business with her sister. In 1952, they were regional winners of the Pillsbury Bake Off Contest. Mom yearned for a family so she put aside her business interest, married and had 4 children in 5 years.
She worked late in the night helping with homework, prom dresses, 4-H projects or various volunteer projects.
Because Mom was nutrition minded, she cooked from scratch with no preservatives. I remember her getting up early many mornings to juice carrots because her friend had brain cancer and it was the only way she could think to help.
Mom believed thriftiness was an honorary profession and every penny saved earns you bonus points in heaven.
Mom believed in community involvement and she loved politics. In 1976, she was elected to the Granite School Board. She served as the first female president of the board.
Through out her life, she taught me to be tough, never complain and be persistent. She was resilient; it was in her DNA. Her ancestors came westward across the United States by covered wagon.
Shortly after a bedridden Mother’s Day, I asked to take her to the doctor, “No, that won’t be necessary,” she said. “I just need a little rest, I don’t need help. I am fine.” Those were the last words Mom spoke to me.
She wasn’t going willing so the paramedics were called. Mom had fallen and had a fractured pelvic bone. She passed away a few days later.
I hope I can keep her geraniums alive.
Camille Curtis Foster/ 801.472.7134/ 1FosterConnect@gmail.com
You can buy the book with stories from Mom’s childhood here: http://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=15159722. The book is self published and illustrated by the talented local artist Kathleen Peterson.
Another post about resiliency and doing hard things: https://utahmentalhealthservices.com/happy-child-happy-parents-building-self-esteem-in-your-child-part/
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