I am at Russo’s, staring at the cut flowers. This is the first time I have found myself overwhelmed by the task of choosing flowers. Shoppers are coming and going, elbows out, determined to get their fresh pasta and head home in time for whatever is Very Important tonight. A Russo’s employee, in contrast, slowly and carefully places fresh carrots onto a shelf. I just keep staring at the flowers.
I am buying flowers for the church altar, in honor of the first anniversary of my mother’s passing from this life to the next. Mom loved flowers, and she was very good at choosing just the right ones for any occasion. She ran a fundraiser for years featuring florists making gorgeous arrangements that were auctioned off at the end of the event. She favored floral prints for wallpaper and fabric. And she was a great gardener.
My friend Bruce believes that everyone reflects God’s Being with a focus on one of three things: truth, beauty, or justice. My Mom was all about beauty.
My aesthetic is different from my Mom’s, and I don’t know flowers nearly as well as she did. Standing here blocking traffic in the aisle at Russo’s, the simple task of making a decision brings up memories, thanksgivings, grief, unresolved mother-daughter stuff, and more. What to do? I defer to the liturgical calendar: we’re celebrating the Transfiguration of Christ tomorrow, so white it is. White roses. I’ll add some rosemary from our garden at home (Mom was a great cook, too), and place it all in a vase I inherited from her. My modest offering won’t win any floral competitions, but it’s from the heart. Now for that fresh pasta….