Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
A Mother's Garden of Love
I remember all the times you held me close,
When I was young and needed you,
And all the times you gave your most,
With words that rang so true.
In the bad times and in the good,
You knew what I did need,
You gave love as a mother would,
Gave your love as a tender seed.
A seed to plant within my soul,
In my garden of life it grew,
To catch the sun, shine and grow,
A gift of love from precious you.
For all the treasures of love you gave,
For all the seeds for me to start ,
I give back to you the flowers of love,
From the teachings of your heart.
- Phyllis Doyle Burns, 2009
My mother is eighty-seven years old and still going strong in mind, body and soul. She has raised seven children, from birth to adulthood and have seen us raise our children and our grandchildren. She has many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. She still cooks huge holiday dinners for us. She still hides Easter eggs and baskets for us, she still makes sure Santa stuffs our Christmas socks full to the brim, and she still gives us Valentines.
When my siblings and I were growing up, we mostly lived on farms in the Pacific Northwest. There was always fresh eggs, vegetables and fruits for us on the table, and Mama made sure there was plenty of preserves, jams, jellies and canned goods to last the winter. Homemade breads and cinnamon rolls were always available. Piles of toast and mugs of hot chocolate were there for us on cold wintry evenings for a snack or on the breakfast table with bowls of oatmeal or eggs and bacon.
Fresh vegetables from the garden that us kids thought were worthless and things to avoid turned into delicious, steaming bowls of delight with butter dripping over them. Campouts in our back yard turned out pans of fried potatoes and bacon, bread toasted over the coals, and homemade cookies.
Mama sang songs to the babies as she settled them down for naps and as the older children gathered at her knees she sang to us, too. She told us stories of her childhood, her Mama and Papa, their long trip from South Dakota to the Pacific Northwest in a makeshift wagon in the late 1920's, and the little brother they lost and had to bury out in the prairie. She told us of the abandoned barn they slept in one night during a storm and her Papa made sure they all kept warm and dry. She told us of her first job as a babysitter and housekeeper and how she bought, for the first time with her own money, a sweater, skirt, nylons and shoes with her first paycheck.
She told us of the first house her Papa moved them into and how he surprised them by flipping on a switch and a light lit up the room. It was the first house they ever had with electricity. She passed on the folklore of her parents and ancestors with her soft and warm voice.
We were never rich in a financial way, but we never went hungry, we always had the clothes we needed and a warm bed to sleep in at night. We said our prayers that Mom and Dad had taught us. We awoke to a hearty breakfast. We always had what we needed for school. We always had a brown-bag lunch to take to school with good food, love and prayers tucked inside. We were rich in love and the basics of life. And we were rich in the faith that our parents gave us.
When I was in grade school, I loved to square dance and joined the school competitions. My square won all of them and we were entered into the state competitions. I was thrilled! I was also sad, because I did not have tons of clothes like the other girls at school did. My clothes were pretty and always clean, but I needed a new skirt for the state competitions so all the girls in my square would match our theme. I was devastated! How was I going to be able to go to the competition without the new skirt I so needed? One day I came home from school and my mother was sitting in the dining room with our neighbor lady. This lady's daughter was my best friend and also in my square. Mama and the lady had a big smile for my friend and I and showed us the beautiful material they had bought to make us the skirts we needed. My friend and I were euphoric! We could not believe our eyes. Mama and our neighbor lady must have saved for months to get that beautiful material. I will never forget that. And our skirts were so full and so beautiful when we twirled in the dances.
During thunderstorms, we often lost our electricity and the big old Victorian houses we lived in were scary then. Mama always had candles available and would light several to bring a soft glow into one room where we all huddled close together. Then she would tell us delightful folktales with happy endings and get out some cookies or other treats for us. She kept us safe and entertained till the lights were back on then tucked us into our warm beds.
Mama taught me how to sew on her old treadle sewing machine. She taught me how to cook and bake. She was there when my first child was born and showed me how to care for him. She was there when my second child was born also and showed me how to care for her. She helped me through the illnesses and rough times when I was a young mother. She was there when I needed strength and helped me pray. When I was insecure and had no confidence, she gave me strength. When I had doubts she gave me faith. When I felt lost she gave me hope.
For setting me on the right path in life, for praying for me, for loving me - I thank you, Mama! Happy Mother's Day to a dear Mother. God bless you.