My mom has been gone for seven years. We've grieved and moved on with our lives. It helps to think of her up in heaven talking and laughing like when she was young. Yet, each in our own way we miss her. A lot. Although nobody mentioned it while my sisters were here but I am pretty sure my mom was hanging around. Sometimes I don't think she ever left.
I suspected she was there supervising the cooking of the roast, helping Dad blow out his candles, listening as each daughter told stories of her kids/grandkids, and reminding Dad to embrace his softer side. I'm sure that was her in the kitchen each night nudging me to rearrange the dishes in the dishwasher before turning it on and turning out the light. The thing that convinced me, however, that mom's spirit hovered overhead and surrounded us with her love, was when the gardenia bush in the back yard burst into bloom on the same day my sisters arrived.
Family lore has it that my father fell in love at the first sight of a lovely Hawaiian girl posing naked in a tree. No the girl was not naked, but wearing a nude colored bathing suit. Pretty hot stuff for the teenaged daughter of a Navy commander back in 1940, my mom was a looker. Her time in the islands gave Mom a kind of sultry, tropical appeal her daughters tried to emulate but never quite pulled off . She was often photographed with a sweet smelling flower behind her ear. Hibiscus, gardenia, ginger blossom, pikake, you name it, and my mom could somehow make it even lovelier by casually sticking it in her hair. Nope, I don't think it was a coincidence at all that this particular bush blossomed at this particular time.
Circa 1950: Mom in Guam
June, 2001: Mom wearing a pikake lei on her 60th wedding anniversary
During the week, each of us picked up a flower, inhaled its delicate smell and remembered the woman who made polyester shorts and flip flops seem glamorous just by sticking a flower behind her ear.