Primroses for Mum

Primroses, primroses, jump into the pot
We’ll take you with us to the new garden
Where we hope you will be happy

I’m borrowing from words I remember reading in My Childhood, by Maxim Gorky, when he hears his grandmother inviting the house demon, the goblin of the hearth, to jump into a shoe and go with them to the new house. Something like that happened with these flowers.

Self-seeded primroses in a big blue pot
Self-seeded primroses in a big blue pot

Before my husband died, when we were living in rural Wales, near Aberystwyth, we had a big blue pot into which the seeds of primroses had sown themselves. It was a wonder to us when they appeared one springtime. Since then I have come to wonder instead why the countryside is not covered in them, so happy are they to spread themselves about.

After my husband’s death at too young an age, my parents decided that they would plan ahead, and after much looking about, paid for a plot in a woodland burial ground with a distant view of the harbour. Mum was born in a house in a nearby village in a bedroom with much the same outlook across fields and marshland to the water.

My parents took us to the place on a grassy hillside with young trees planted, and small headstones lying flat. Mum pushed her rollator to the top of the rise and there was the view. ‘You see,’ said my mother, ‘you could come up here and have a picnic.’

Later, she showed us the list of flowers that could be planted on the grave: native species only. I promised her some primroses.

Primroses planted and spreading
Primroses planted and spreading

Four years later, I moved back home to Dorset and the big blue pot came with me. The mother plants soon multiplied and I began planting out primroses in the new garden. Mum and I talked about it more than once, that I would plant them for her too – one day.

Shadow on forget-me-nots
Shadow on forget-me-nots

In the new garden there were forget-me-nots in abundance. Mum said that she would like those too.

My husband had died of mesothelioma, that terrible cancer caused by breathing in or ingesting fibres of asbestos. For a donation to the charity, Mesothelioma UK, you can have badges to wear inscribed with the words ‘forget-mesothelioma-not. Mum wore such a badge on every coat and cardigan.

Forget-mesothelioma-not badge
Forget-mesothelioma-not badge

After she died, I potted up and planted out the first primroses and forget-me-nots and planted them on her grave. I am grateful that she went in peace and had lived to be 86 despite long-term struggles with her health.

But springtime brings a Mother’s Day without her. And the beauty of a blackthorn winter is sharp with memories of loss. My husband died in April, on Mum’s birthday. It links them forever, like the flowers, but it weighs me down. I feel a little lighter for having written this.

We go to the grassy hillside with my dad and tend the grave. The young trees are taller than last year. There is a picnic table on a patch of rough ground. One day we might sit there. I hear Mum telling me of the fields around the village where she grew up, then full of flowers in springtime.

The photographs are from my garden. I didn’t want to show a picture of the grave: but the flowers are there too as well as snowdrops and crocuses, and creeping thyme. The forget-me-nots have seeded everywhere, promising a covering of tiny blue stars. The primroses survived last summer’s drought and are thriving now. We snip the grass around them so they won’t be taken by the groundsman’s strimmer.

There is some comfort in a promise kept, in the return of the flowers and in knowing of the journey they have made.

Seasonal celebrations can be hard on those who cannot as readily join in: people without mothers, or those who’ve never had one or known such love. I’m lucky to have good memories. For those who have mothers and who feel that love, enjoy it! Enjoy it while you can, as we did.

If you have something to share, please leave a comment.


16 thoughts on “Primroses for Mum

  1. Thank you for not only sharing your memories with such meaningful connections to certain flowers and your mother, but also remembering those who may not have such memories. When I lived in the UK I was amazed in spring when the daffodils popped up everywhere, alongside footpaths etc. I now have 5 pots each containing a daffodil bulb. They all magically grew and flowered last September. Now as your flowers start to bloom with spring, here the leaves are turning orange and red. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Maria, such a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing with us. A bittersweet day for you and a timely reminder that all seasonal celebrations invoke loss as well as joy. Those two responses have love in common; I’m aware that for some there is not even love.

    I feel fortunate: my mother also has significant health issues but she is still with us all and will be enjoying Mother’s Day with my sister. But this will be the first year without my wonderful ex-mother-in-law, whom I’d known for almost 50 years and remained very close to. I think of her today.

    I think too, of my other sister who faces this Mothering Sunday with the prospect of having lost her eldest son to a dreadful rift with his father which is beyond her control. And my oldest friend will spend this day with her own son an inpatient at a psychiatric clinic. Again, I feel fortunate. Although I won’t see any of them today all three of my children are happy and thriving. Eight years ago this was a very different day. Two of my children were facing severe and suicidal mental health problems. My daughter, a very new mother herself, spent her first Mother’s Day in a clinic with her baby and vowed never she would never again acknowledge Mother’s Day. She has come a long way since then. I say once more: I feel very fortunate.

    I also feel that I’m out of line here: I’ve strayed from acknowledging your personal loss. Please feel free to delete this post if you prefer; I would completely understand. Either way, you have given me the opportunity to reflect on the undulating paths we tread as we travel through these lives of ours, always signposted by both love and loss. There can never be one without the other.

    Take good care 🤗

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh it is very fine to hear your thoughts. I appreciate them and feel touched that you could write about them here. We can acknowledge our blessings as well as all the things that are hard to bear. Thank you and very best wishes to you and all those with whom you share this love.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful post, Maria. It’s good to remember your mum and to remind us to enjoy our mums while we still have them. And it’s wonderful to remember Mike! I can see him now, lounging on a deckchair on the green grass outside my grandmother’s old house in Connecticut–with beer in hand, cracking a joke, a huge grin on his face–when you visited us in the U.S. all those years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Sarah. That was his favourite part of the trip! That and kayaking across the Connecticut River with Lee. All the best to your mother. Is it Mother’s Day in Oz or the USA? In Holland it’s in May so I know it’s not universal.

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  4. The planting and tending of those flowers is such a beautiful thing to do, and it’s so special that you’ve discussed it with us; and that your mother gave you something to take comfort from and a sort of pleasure in. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A beautiful and moving post, Maria, you are braver than me with personal moments. Such delightful flowers, I have seen forget-me-nots in Brisbane and hope when springtime comes I will be able to find pots of primroses. Mother’s Day is celebrated in autumn in Australia on the second Sunday in May.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah – thanks for telling me, Gretchen. Your Mother’s Day is still to come this year. I hope it passes well for you. It’s unusual for me to say so much about my own feelings as it usually gets sublimated into fiction but it really helped me this time.

      Liked by 1 person

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