If you’ve never seen Atlanta in the spring, it looks like this:
It’s an explosion of flowering trees, wisteria, and azaleas. The biological imperative to reproduce is on full display: one of my daughter’s professors calls this “plant mating season”. The trees are outdoing each other for attention. The rest of us are VIP guests at Plant World Fashion Week.
Of course there’s pollen, tons of it. Everything that isn’t covered with flowers is buried in yellow dust. And nobody can breathe.
But it’s worth it, especially if you have an 89-year-old mother with dementia. Because beauty never gets old. This time of year I don’t need to come up with any activities to do with her. All we have to do is go for a drive, and she’s happy.
The other day we went to one of our favorite spots, a small lake with a walking trail. We used to walk around it, but now we’re content to sit on one of the swings and take in the view. We become a cheering section for joggers, a welcoming committee for parents and toddlers, and a disappointment to the ducks, who were expecting snacks.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Mom’s dementia has forced me to slow down and notice all of this. It’s easy to take it for granted, or dismiss it as a nuisance — pollen season, ugh.
Driving through neighborhoods with her, walking oh-so-slowly to a park bench, sitting together without saying a word, I experience spring as a gift. Every flower on these stately trees is new life from very, very old life; life that will continue long after she and I are dead; life that will remind me of her when she’s gone. I can imagine myself in twenty years, on an spring day in Atlanta, sitting outside (on the same swing?) and remembering her. I can already picture the sunshine, the slight nip in the air, the blossoms on the trees, and the thought in my mind:
Mother would have loved this.