My Melancholy Memory of My Mom’s Miracle Marigolds

I don't know what this has to do with being Gutsy, other than look at my Mom in that bikini at around 50!

That was gutsy!

I just wanted to share this memory of someone who taught me that Gutsy is also about taking time to stop and smell the marigolds. When I was a little girl, I remember the small backyard of our two story flat in Chicago was mostly grass. My Dad took care of it.

He watered it, mowed it, trimmed it, watched it grow, and admired it. There was a small strip of dirt between the sidewalk and the neighbor’s fence that was for my Mom to take care of.

Every year after those very long brutal winters, at springtime, Mom planted coleus (bought new every year), and marigolds (from the previous year’s seeds). Our neighbors had beautiful roses and tulips and daffodils and gladiolas and flowers of glorious colors and wonderful smells. Picture perfect.

All we had were leaves on spindly stems (the coleus) and stupid flowers that looked like weeds, were an ugly color, and smelled awful (the marigolds). I have hated marigolds and the color orange my whole life. My Mom passed away over 20 years ago and Dad never planted anything along this fence after that time. It remained a strip of dirt. He just couldn’t do it. It was Mom’s spring ritual, not his. My Dad passed on a few years later.

When my family and I were cleaning the basement of the house I had lived in since I was five months old, I found a small brown paper bag. I opened the bag (cautiously!) and there were marigold seeds left over from the last time Mom grew them. My first thought was to throw them out, they were old and I hated marigolds, but I decided against it and just tossed them with the few other treasures from my Mom and my Dad that I wanted.

Many years passed. I was cleaning out my garage last spring and I found a small brown paper bag. I opened the bag (cautiously!) and there were the marigold seeds I had forgotten about. I planted them just outside my front door. Something in me wanted to see them grow again. Something in me wanted to feel the feelings Mom felt when she planted them and watered them and fed them and watched them grow.

I wanted to continue the spring ritual she so loved.

I wanted Mom to be a living part of my life. I had doubts they would grow. They were over 20 years old. I prayed to Mom to make them grow. I prayed to all my adopted Mom’s who were part of my life to make these marigolds grow. They would understand wanting to hold onto a part of life I loved and lost. I felt they could nurture these seeds and fill them with life so I could carry on the spring ritual. I took special care and watched their growth daily. Whenever I passed through my front door, I stopped and checked their progress. This was my ‘stop and smell the roses’. I could hear Mom whisper, “Pat! Come look! Just stop a minute and look at my gift to you. Aren’t they beautiful?” They grew and grew and grew with amazing variegation and flowers always reaching for the sky.

Their colors vibrated with energy.

For the first time, I saw the beauty that my Mom saw in something I saw no beauty in before. I looked at something differently because of her. This is one of the many gifts I have received from my Mom after her passing. I saw my Mom in each and every petal. She helped me see beauty where I saw none before by being present to what’s in front of me. At that moment, I claimed beauty as a value of mine.

This is an updated blog from May 2016. I wanted to share this story again as it is a tribute to my wonderful Mom.


Diane Oppliger

I love this story. My Mom also planted marigolds and I hated them but from now on your story will always make me smile when I see them. Isn't it interesting how we connect with our parents and other loved ones in unusual ways after they are gone?
Read more
Read less
Linda Beck

I, too, remember your Mom's flowers - also the ones planted in your Dad's old shoes. She could make anything grow it seemed. I liked the 4-O'clocks and the peonies (even tho they brought bees) My mom had allergies and could't stand the smell of new mown grass (made her sneeze like the dickens) I guess I got my "green thumb" from my mom, because I swear I can kill silk flowers! Happy Mother's Day to our Moms. Hope they are as proud of us as we were of them. Love, Linda
Read more
Read less
Nikki Huth

Love this beautiful story, Pat. What a wondeerful tribute to your mom. I thank your mom, too, for the very special gift of you in my life.
Read more
Read less
Carla Griffin

Such a beautiful, heart-warming story Pat. Thank you for sharing. There is so much beauty around us and we just need to "stop and smell the roses".
Read more
Read less
Jackie Burleigh

So very grateful that you shared this profound ritual at the heart of your mother's gift of unconditional love for you, her family and neighbors! I took time to read this again today for you have "gifted" us with such a perpetual message that speaks to the heart and soul! The apple does not fall from the tree! Thank you
Read more
Read less