Mary insisted on wearing matching dresses to church. Pulling my navy dress from the closet for her approval, she creased her freckled nose and said, “No, something bright. Where’s your rose dress?”

Forgotten behind my black coat and woolen sweaters, hung the rose dress– slightly wrinkly, saturated with memories. I wore it on that rainy, last minute flight to San Diego; when I walked into the room my mother exclaimed and lifted up from her bed. Speech had departed her, but she knew me and caressed my hair as I lay my head on her chest. Through that evening and into the night I stayed at her side, gripping her hand as she writhed in agony. I was still wearing it, lying at her feet, when she drew her last breath in the fine hours of the morning. By then the dress was soaked with blood and sweat, but I washed it and wore it four days later as I spoke at her funeral.

Really, there could be nothing more poetic to wear today. I also clutched my red purse.

Just days after my mother’s death, even before the funeral, my Segullah friends sent me a card, a cake and a gift certificate to a garden store. Like me, my writer friends love symbols, and nothing represents my mother like the garden. The consummate gardener, she dispensed advice freely and shared perennial starts. By chance, I saw four of her best friends last week. Even as they approached me I began to tear up. They ran to me, embraced my shaking shoulders and each one said, “As I work in my garden, I think of your mother.”

I’ve been to the garden store a dozen times in the last 10 months, wandering the aisles, inquiring after citrus trees, searching for the perfect thing. Surely I’ve overthought it.

But yesterday (the week before Mother’s Day has the best selection of the year– my mother taught me that), I made my decision in a matter of minutes: a fragrant lime tree to grace the porch in the summer and fill our winter rooms with it’s intoxicating scent, and a espaliered pear to flower and stretch across the western fence. Enamored by their elegance and efficiency, my mother bordered her yard with espaliered fruits.




This is my mother’s face that filled my dreams last night. It was the sort of nightvision when you know you are dreaming, but don’t want it to end. But the emotion of watching her talk and laugh when I knew she was gone was too much for me. I began to sob and woke with a start.

Studying her fresh young features I want to warn her from the challenges ahead of her. I wonder how different things might have been if she hadn’t taken that phone call or if she’d stayed home on that icy winter day? How calm and easy the path of my childhood and her life might have wandered. But it was the difficult tasks that created the woman, the mother, I love and it was also those trials that formed my character and my mothering abilities.

Like the lime torn from it’s native climate and the pear tree pruned and molded with it’s arms extended, I pray her efforts bear fruit.

Please, let them bear fruit.

May 8, 2010
May 10, 2010



  1. Jeanelle

    May 10, 2010

    so wishing I could hug you right now. The perfect outfit (right down to the purse I covet and those darling shoes!)

  2. crissy

    May 10, 2010

    Your little girl is so sweet.
    Happy Mother’s day!

  3. dalene

    May 10, 2010

    lovely as always, michelle. hugs–

  4. Kerri

    May 10, 2010

    Oh, Michelle, this made me cry. What a sweet tribute. I hope Mother’s Day had its lovely moments, even if it had hard ones, too. And I’m a big fan of espaliered trees…I dreamed of them in our last house, but never actually planted any.

  5. Ken

    May 10, 2010

    Dear Michelle,
    Thank you for your tribute to Zoe Ann! I enjoy her “fruits” everyday. Indeed, she made the world a more beautiful and joyful place in many ways by her dedication to her family…. and hard work. I thank Heavenly Father for her every day.
    With love and appreciation,

  6. Sue

    May 10, 2010

    Sounds like Mother’s Day was bittersweet, but that makes a lot of sense.

    On a lighter note, I hadn’t realized how much your daughter looks like you until I saw her picture, sitting on your lap. What a pretty picture the two of you make!


  7. Selwyn

    May 10, 2010

    Beautiful. All of you.

    And wow, your baby shot shows much of Mary!

  8. Tracy

    May 10, 2010

    Happy Mother’s Day. The dress and bag are perfect.(and would look amazing in a little red convertible…) Lovely tribute.
    xoxo, t

  9. Tasha

    May 10, 2010

    As always, you brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your experiences, even when they are painful. They help me better appreciate what I already have.

  10. Kevin

    May 11, 2010

    I’m so glad you found the perfect reminders of your mom for your garden. Can’t wait to see them and you!

  11. Dovie

    May 11, 2010

    First the silly stuff. I call the remains on Monday morning the what’s left from the Sunday Bomb. This Monday I got off easy 5 of my 6 children were sick on Sunday so the damage to the house was minimal. Second because of all the sickies my requested dinner cooked by my honey was chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles and a minimalist, delicious, chocolate cake. So only two loads through the dishwasher this morning. Sometimes Mothers day meal kitchen recovery requires a few days to complete.

    Second what made me tear up. Your dress, your daughter, your mother… beautiful all of it. I lost my father the day before fathers day last year. I know the coming holiday is going to be hard.

    Now my apparel tender mercy, I bought a skirt for myself a month or so ago that I hadn’t yet worn. A whimsical orange and brown flowing number. I didn’t think I had anything in my closet that matched but I really wanted to wear it, something new for mothers day. Then I saw the perfect match hanging in the back of my closet, a sweater that belonged to my father when I was a baby. I have a picture of him in the sweater and my mom and my little baby self. I had never thought of wearing it. I have owned it as a sentimental item for years but yesterday it was just perfect.

  12. Rachelle

    May 11, 2010

    Your mother’s efforts have bared fruit in you and your family. There’s no doubt. Love the photo of you and Mary!

  13. Denise

    May 11, 2010

    I think anytime you show love, understanding, compassion, gentleness, patience, etc. to any member of your family — you are bearing the good fruits your Mom planted in you.

  14. Mitchell Family

    May 13, 2010

    You look so beautiful

Comments are closed.