Violets and Frances
As I mentioned in the prior post, Frances was my mother's name. She passed away almost exactly 11 years ago. She loved violets. When I was a little girl, she would take me into the deep New England woods to find wild violets to transplant to her garden. We were always careful to only take a little from a clump, leaving behind enough to multiply in subsequent seasons. They came in every color - from the deepest most mysterious purple to a spritely periwinkle blue. There were white ones, white ones with purple edges, yellow ones, pink ones. But of all of them, we loved the plain everyday purple violet with heart shaped leaves the best.
After years of transplanting, the violets had spread beyond the various gardens' edges, and had begun to provide the odd purple dot in my parents' lawn. This was a source of great joy for my mother, and great consternation for my father. While she lived, the violets stayed. On Mother's Day every year, from childhood into my 40's, I would pick my mother a bouquet of violets from her garden. It was this treasured tradition between us, a ritual between women.
My Mom passed away one year in late February. By late April that year it had started to warm up. The weekend before Mother's Day, my father announced to me that he had put a special weed poison on the lawn that was "guaranteed to get rid of those damned violets". I was in shock, and hurt that my father would do that. I told him so, but he was stolid. Lawns were supposed to be green, not purple.
We talked about Mother's Day and agreed that neither of us wanted to be alone. So I offered to drive up and spend the weekend with him.
As I got out of my car, a week after my Dad had poisoned the violets, he met me in the driveway. He grabbed my hand and said "Come with me" and headed for the back yard. I expected to see some vast expanse of green and to get a lecture on green lawns.
Instead what did I see?
A SEA of purple.
The lawn was covered in blossoming violets -- light purple, dark purple, white with purple and on and on. Everywhere you looked -- violets! There had never been so many violets in the yard. The violet count had increased by easily 1000%.
I started to cry. My father just said, "I guess your mother had her say. The violets stay."
And stay they did. They were never as abundant as that one year, but then again, they no longer needed to be. We had gotten the message.