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James R. Stout

Mama's Jonquils


            When my mother was about 8-years-old, sometime in either 1937 or 1938, she asked her grandmother, my great-grandmother, if there was some way that she could plant some jonquils like my great-grandmother had at her home. Great-grandma then helped my mother take some cuttings from Great-grandma’s jonquils and plant them on my grandparent’s yard. Mom tended the flowers every year until she left home. They didn’t die after that though. My grandparents made sure that the jonquils continued to survive and bloom every year. I remember being cautioned to not step on them when I was a child and would visit my grandparents. They were planted on side of the garage and they always bloomed sometime in January and February.

            Fast-forward about 45 years. My parents moved to the old farmhouse in 1983 and my grandmother lived with them there for a year. Unfortunately, the old house was just too drafty and cold that winter and my grandmother could barely stand the cold. She was in her 80’s by then. I must admit that they picked one of the coldest years on record to live in the farmhouse. Despite some extensive remodeling, the old house had little in the way of insulation like the insulated homes that they had become accustomed to. It was certainly not up to the 10 degrees weather that happened several times that year. But those jonquils survived anyway. They had continued to thrive through all those years. Mom and Dad bought a piece of property near Trinity, Texas and built a home there. The three of them moved into that home in August of the next year.

            Grandma passed away in June of 1989 at the age of 86. Mom and Dad made frequent trips out to the farmhouse to take care of things including making sure the jonquils were doing fine. Every year after that they would make sure to go out to the farm when the jonquils were blooming so that Mom could enjoy them. I have attached a picture of the jonquils in bloom from about 2001. Somewhere in all of my “stuff” I believe there is a later picture that I took of Mom and my daughter standing beside the jonquils in bloom. I couldn’t find that picture for this blog entry, but now it’s a mission for me!

            Through the next several years I would take Mom out to see the jonquils. She loved them so much and they brought back warm memories of her childhood and her grandmother. Dad passed away at the age of 93 in 2016. In January of 2017 I took Mom out for a drive to the farm and we noticed that the jonquils were not blooming. The green leaves were sprouting and looking good, but no blooms on them. We figured that they just hadn’t quite got to that point yet. But given I had to pass by the farmhouse every day I took note of the fact that they never did bloom in 2017. I didn’t tell Mom though. She had enough on her plate. Her health took a turn for the worse in October of 2017 and we almost lost her then. Unfortunately, she spent the next three months in rehab and then we faced the fact that she would need to live in an assisted living facility. She seemed to rally in January of 2018, but that ended when my sister, Mom’s oldest child, passed away on January 21, 2018 at the age of 68. It just took the wind out of Mom’s sails. One of the last visits that I had with her before she passed away, she asked me if the jonquils were blooming. It hurt me to have to tell her that they had not bloomed that year. She seemed to get a faraway look in her eyes, and I knew that it saddened her. She would pass about two weeks later in late March of 2018.

            I drove by the farmhouse yesterday and made a point of looking to see if the jonquils might be blooming. The green leaves are there, but no blooms. I’m not an expert on flowers or botany, but it appears to me that they have run their course. I sat there in my truck looking at the green shoots next to the old garage and a thought came to me. Perhaps those jonquils and Mom were somehow or other connected in more ways than her simply planting them as a child. The cuttings that she got from Great-grandma were probably first planted about the time that Mom was born. She transplanted them as a young child, and they thrived and bloomed every year until about the same time that Mom passed away. I believe that I will find some jonquils near or on the farm and at the proper time transplant them to my place. They won’t be Mama’s Jonquils, but every year when they bloom, I can remember Mama and how much she loved her jonquils. They can be a tribute to a great lady who was simply the best mom that a person could hope for.

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