Donít Give Me Flowers!
By Patricia Sheets
With Motherís Day quickly approaching, I recently met with several other ladies to discuss how our church would commemorate the special day. We decided to have a time during the worship service when all mothers would be asked to stand. The pastor would read a sappy poem, then each mother would be honored with a small gift.
With everything else planned, there was only one decision left: What gift should we give to the mothers? I suggested a Purple Heart Ė after all, mothers are on the front line of battle from the first wave of morning sickness until they enter the Pearly Gates. My idea was nixed, however, when someone mentioned that a Purple Heart would clash with a corsage.
We pondered the question and several suggestions were made. A bookmark night be nice, or a handkerchief. Then someone suggested the unthinkable. "How about if we give each mother a flower!"
Before I knew what was happening, I screeched the phrase that my mother had said to me so many times before: "Donít give me flowers until Iím dead!"
There was a momentary silence in the room, then the ladies looked from one to the other, possibly contemplating which of them should leave the room to call the psychiatric hospital. I decided to explain before the 911 call was placed.
I remember walking into the kitchen when I was just five years old. My mom was making biscuits for breakfast. I stood beside her and watched for a minute as she kneaded the dough.
My dad had mentioned that Motherís Day was just a few weeks away, so I asked Mom, "What would you like for Motherís Day?"
She looked down at me, wiped her hands on her apron and smiled. "Donít give me flowers until Iím dead", she said, as she shoved the pan into the oven.
I was confused. Mom was an avid gardener and always had fresh flowers scattered throughout the house. Even in the wintertime she would pick something green from the yard, put it in a vase of water and bring it inside. I dismissed it as one of those "Mom things" and resolved to get her something really special that didnít involve flowers.
For the next several days, I searched desperately for a gift but nothing seemed to fit the occasion. Then, one day as I walked along the dirt road in front of our house, I found it! Nestled before me in a patch of weeds was the most beautiful dead black snake I had ever seen! It was stiff and dirty with just enough tire marks to give it character, the kind of thing that would fascinate any five-year-old kid. "Momís gonna love this", I thought as I scooped the prize into an old shoebox. I tied a pink ribbon around its taut body, took it home, and tucked it safely under my bed.
Unfortunately, my find never made it to Motherís Day. Muffin, our cat, found the dead reptile, played with it for a while, then carried it to the breakfast table and dropped it into my dadís cereal bowl.
For some reason, Dad lost his appetite and ran to the bathroom. When he returned, he assured me Mom would love the gift, but suggested we take a picture of the decaying carcass, then give it a proper burial. I reluctantly agreed, so on Motherís Day Mom received a framed photograph of Muffin, sitting on the kitchen table with a milk-covered snake in her mouth. Hallmark, eat your heart out!
Then there was the year I turned 16 and realized I was the most intelligent creature on the planet Earth. Mini skirts were all the rage, but I wasnít allowed to wear them. Not to be outdone, I devised a clever plan.
I bought a mini skirt for my mom and proudly presented it to her on Motherís Day. I knew she wouldnít be caught dead in the thing, but since it was a gift, she would find some use for it, and since it just happened to be my size Ö
I watched as she opened the neatly wrapped box and lifted the scrap of material. Her reaction was not what I expected.
"Wow", she said, "You shouldnít have! How did you know I needed one of these? And just the right color." She rubbed my skirt against her face. "Feels nice, too!" I cowered as I watched her walk to the bathroom and place the garment on the towel rack. "Itís a bit small, but will do nicely as a hand towel". The "mini-skirt towel," as it became known, was a family joke for years.
It wasnít until I became a mother that I understood the message Mom was attempting to convey. When I looked into the eyes of my newborn child for the first time, I knew that I would gladly give anything for her, including my life. What I wanted from her in return was not a last minute bouquet of flowers from the corner mini-mart or any other gift given out of a sense of duty. What I really wanted was something that was from her heart. What I wanted was her love.
After hearing my story, the ladies understood and agreed on one thing: I was a weird kid with a weird mother. As for the gift, Iím still not sure what our church will be giving to the mothers. I do, however, know what Iíll be giving my mom. Unfortunately, this year, Iíll be giving her flowers. I love you, Mom.
Pat Sheets is a freelance writer with an offbeat sense of humor. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with the three men in her life: Jack, her husband, is a pastor. Duncan and Barkley are pound-saved mutts but none-the-less, her "boys".
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