Between the Lilac and the Birch

The first spring, when my mum and I stood on my crappy back deck and looked out over a wasteland that was supposed to be my back yard . . . .

There was a lilac. It was somewhere between bush and tree. Well, it was a tree, but it was so overgrown with suckers it was both a bush and a tree. It needed to be trimmed, but there was also 2 feet of dog poop and something that wasn’t grass and wasn’t weeds. Oh, and there was mud.

16* years later the lilac is a well-pruned tree. There are lights hung in it, a flower bed underneath, and a set of Adirondack chairs on paving stones underneath. The deck is also gone, replaced by something that holds a table and my bbq. There is grass, rock, more flower beds.

Opposite the lilac is the Young’s Weeping Birch my friend’s gave me when Gabe died. Planted at 3 feet high, it’s now easily 7 feet. It needs another hair cut to stop it from crowding the path into the backyard. There’s an herb garden, a small veggie garden and the world’s largest rhubarb next to the birch.

If I had to explain what Mother’s day is like for me, I would tell you it’s living between the lilac and the birch tree. It’s living with the memories of a mother no longer here and the reality that ‘parenting’ my child involves dusting his urn and giving his tree a haircut. It’s filled with things that have happened in the interim. Adirondack chairs from a 10th wedding anniversary, conversations that happened in those chairs. Herbs that have flavoured meals I’ve made. Rhubarb that has become pies and crisps, fed to those I love.

* I think I bought my house 16 years ago. It’s close to that anyway.

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3 Responses to Between the Lilac and the Birch

  1. Mark says:

    The last paragraph is beautifully – and powerfully – written. Takes courage and heart to write like that. Best words I’ve read today.

  2. Debby Hornburg says:

    This is a post which packs a wallop. When you stay in one place long enough, it begins to collect memories. That can be both a good thing, and a bad thing.


  3. loribeth says:

    Wonderful post! <3

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