A few weeks ago, I took my mother on a pansy purchasing expedition. Miss Helen had been after me to take her to a nursery to purchase pansies to plant in pots on her porch. She was dreaming of a trip to a huge local nursery where the plants are all locally grown so that she could discuss the growing seasons of phlox and sweet peas with an "expert." I was thinking that a quick trip to Lowes would do the trick. When I told her of my diabolical plan to dash to a "hardware" store to purchase her pansies she paused for a moment and gave me a quick, "Hmm." Wait for it...wait for it... "I guess that would be OK." My response? "Great! Get in the car!"
Pangs of guilt rippled through my heart as we pulled into the Lowes parking lot. "Mom, I get bedding plants here ALL the time. They have great plants and great prices!" Her response? "Hmm." The pangs became more gripping. On the way into the nursery area of the store, I commandeered a large rolling "flatbed" that she could load up with bedding plants. "Show me where the pansies are," she commanded. With a sweeping glance of the rows of bedding plants, the pangs became downright stabbing when I noticed that there were very few pansies left behind from the previous sunny pansy-planting weekend. I hoped that her sweet little legally blind grey-blue eyes had not taken in the same sad state of affairs. "I see some! Follow me!" I sang out pushing the cart towards the purples, yellows, and whites.
Approaching the small selection, I tried to justify my need for expediency by thinking about the fact that she only needed about 8 plants to fill the predestined two terra cotta pots on her porch. "How many pansies do you think you'll need?!" "Hmm. I need to see how big the plants are before I decide." Instinctively, I begin my deep breathing exercises. "Ooookay. Would you rather have 4 big plants or 8 small ones?" "Hmm. Which ones do you think are the prettiest?" she inquired. Breath in slowly. Out slowly. "The purple ones with yellow centers are pretty spectacular!" "Hmm. Get me one of those." Innnnnn. Ouuuuut. "Just one?! Don't you need more than that?" "Yes. But I want them to all be different colors." I decided to simply surrender to the task. To be in that moment. To cast all my cares on Jesus. To be the daughter my mother deserved.
Scouring every pansy plant - big, small, white, purple, yellow - I helped Mom gather up the best of the puny assortment. Standing back, we admired the mix of subtle pansy nuances of color. My thought? Done! She said? "What about some kale?" I switched from stress reduction breathing techniques to full-on natural childbirth "heee-heee-hoooos." My mind jumped out of "the moment" to thoughts of my messy house and piles of laundry. I closed my eyes and silently chanted: "Be in this moment. What is more important than time with Mom? Be in this moment. What is more important than time with Mom?"
I quickly scanned the bedding plant tables of kale. Most of the tables were empty or had small bits of assorted plants - none of which are kale. "Nope! Don't see any! Are you ready to check out?!" "Hmm. I'll ask someone who works here if they have any." Heee. Heee. Hoooooo. Feeling a flair up of guilt pangs, I made one more visual sweep of the area. There - two rows away on the far end of the table - were about seven lonely kale plants. "Wait, Mom! I see 'em! Follow me!"
Upon closer inspection, I realized that the handful of plants were pretty scrappy looking. I heard God's still small voice within me ask, "Are you doing your very best for the mother who slaved hours into the night over her sewing machine making all of your school clothes? The mother who came home from a long day of teaching 6th graders and whipped up a supper of fried pork chops, rice, green beans and gravy?" Like a child I lowered my eyes, and silently answered in a tiny voice, "No, Sir." (I decided it would be best not to mention the fact that the green beans were canned.) "Hmm," He replied. That "hmm" was a parental "hmm" that sent me to a place of silent contrition. "Hey, Mom. These plants are pretty puny. How's about we head over to Ivey Gardens to see how their pansies and kale look?! We can stop by Sonic on the way! You can get a corny dog and a lemon-berry slush!" She smiled and said, "These will be just fine! Pick out a couple of good ones for me!" Peeling off the brown leaves, I finally narrowed the contestants down to two. Plopping them onto the cart next to the pansies, I headed towards the check out counter.
As I neared the check out line, I looked back to see if Mom was keeping up with me. She was gone. Heeee. Heeee. Hoooo. I wheel my cart around and begin trying to spot her little red beret amongst the greenery. I found her. She was over by the shrubbery chatting with a red-vested Lowes employee. I pulled up beside them just in time to hear her ask, "What time of year do you plant stock in Lubbock?" "I don't know, Ma'am. Let me get Shelly. She should know." So, there we stand. Waiting for someone named Shelley She-Should-Know. Who, like her associate would most likely have no clue about what "stock" is. Time passes s-l-o-w-l-y. Finally, a red-vested lady ambles by. "Hey, Shelly! I've been trying to page you," yawns the red-vested guy. "Oh, I was on my break. What do you need?" "This lady here has a question for you." Sure enough. Shelly She-Should-Know was unfamiliar with her flora and fauna.
"Hmm, I guess we'll have to go to Ivey Gardens later this week. I need to find out when you plant stock in West Texas!" Mom announced as I loaded up her plants into the back of my Suburban. My neck stiffened as I began humming Amazing Grace. Mom joined in singing in the soft voice of her dotage. "Wa-as blind, bu-ut now...I seeeeee."
God bless you, precious Little Mother. There will be kale and pansies aplenty in Heaven. Stock will bloom year round in colors as rich and as beautiful as you.