Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Memory Bouquet

I've got pieces of April, I keep them in a memory bouquet
I've got pieces of April, it's a morning in May

The lyrics play over and over again in my mind, the melody haunts me. I think of my mom and this song starts playing again. My pieces of April are her last days in the hospital bed; the morning she died; and her funeral. But it's a morning in May and those pieces of April are kept in a memory bouquet along with pieces of August, October, June...

My pieces of May are mom with her grandchildren celebrating Mother's Day; dinners at fancy restaurants with her and my brothers before we were married; mom working in her garden, tending to her spring flowers; sitting next to mom in the pew at church and listening to Father Brennan's sermon, the same one he gave on Mother's Day every year and it made us cry every time.

My pieces of June are mom posing with her granddaughter as she graduated from high school; the scrumptious strawberry shortcake she would make and serve up when Michigan strawberries came in season; as a kid, I remember sitting at the kitchen table watching mom standing by the mixer baking cinnamon rolls as the morning sun came streaming in the open window the first day of summer vacation and feeling the purest, most absolute joy imaginable.

My pieces of July are the wonderful summer birthday parties we always had for mom... cruising up and down the Detroit River on my brother's boat; the family reunion at my house for her 87th birthday party; dinner and birthday cake in Frankenmuth; the party on the deck of my other brother's house on the lake, the birthday party at Camp Dearborn; my mom on my brother's motorcycle; the luscious ripe red raspberries that she grew in her yard, they came into season every year just in time for her birthday... she'd make her special cheesecake and top it with raspberries.

My pieces of August are mom in her garden... she had a green thumb and grew the best tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, and melons; her roses were always stellar but they seemed to grow most profusely in August, that's when she'd cut them and bring bouquets of them inside the house; the back-to-school shopping we'd do, she always made sure I had a new outfit to wear the first day of school.

My pieces of September are mom with her grandson... when he was born and each of his birthdays she celebrated with him thereafter; the first days of school each year when I was a kid... I'd get home and she would sit and listen to me enthusiastically rattle on and on about who my new teacher was, which kids I liked in my class and which kids I didn't, who had the coolest new outfit, which boy I liked that year, and why I thought school would be so much harder that year...

My pieces of October are mom taking me trick-or-treating on Halloween. She never stayed home to pass out candy, she always took me around the whole neighborhood bringing an extra bag for me and carrying my full one when it got heavy; the one and only time she came to my dorm room on campus (U of M) to tell me that my dad died; mom dancing with my brother at his wedding.

My pieces of November are mom in the kitchen cooking a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner; the homemade birthday cakes she made me... chocolate cake with white buttercream frosting (still my favorite); watching the J.L. Hudson's Thanksgiving Day Parade on T.V. with her every Thanksgiving morning; Thanksgiving dinners at my brother's house.

My pieces of December are mom making Christmas cookies... frosted cutout cookies, spritzes, and "chicken necks"; decorating the Christmas tree with her; sitting next to her at Christmas Mass; the first Christmas after dad died, we spent it with friends in Florida at her suggestion; watching her writing out Christmas cards at the kitchen table; mom dancing with my brother at his wedding; the many Christmases spent with her grandchildren running around her.

My pieces of January are mom shoveling snow (she had a husband and two strapping sons to do it but she said she liked the exercise!); making hot chocolate for me when I came in from playing in the snow; mom listening to the weather forecast on the kitchen radio (WWJ on the am dial) and to see if school was closed for the day; the trip to Florida when we brought mom along.

My pieces of February are sitting at the kitchen table and showing my valentines to my mom... the ones I got from my classmates at school; mom making her special Valentine's Day cake, yellow batter baked in a heart shaped pan with strawberry filling in the middle and pink frosting on top; the chicken soup she made me when I'd get a cold or the flu and was too sick to go to school and how she waited on me and worried about me.

My pieces of March are mom holding her granddaughter for the first time, and each birthday she celebrated with her thereafter; as a kid, taking the food basket to church with her to have it blessed on the Saturday before Easter; mom in the kitchen coloring Easter eggs; going to the cemetery with her to visit the graves of her parents.

Some of you may remember the song, "Pieces of April" written by Dave Loggins and recorded by Three Dog Night in the early 1970s. If you'd like to hear the song in its entirety sung by Dave Loggins you can do so on his MySpace page (song #2 in the media player on the right side of the page) or if you're content to hear just a snippet of the version that haunts me by Three Dog Night you can do so on (song #15). I couldn't find a legitimate full version of the song by Three Dog Night on the web. If you know of one please leave its whereabouts as a comment.

Happy Mother's Day, Lucy. I miss you. I'm keeping all the pieces of your life in my memory bouquet.