Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Scent of Mimosa

My stepmother, Pauline, died very suddenly of a massive stroke in November, 2009. My father went to bring her morning tea, and found her lying on the floor beside their bed. Her funeral took place five days later on her 77th birthday. They had been married for thirty-five years. My father lives thousands of miles away from me, from all his daughters, yet his sorrow is deeply felt by each of us.

(Pauline, July 2009, four months before her death.)

With Pauline's death, my father lacks the one person who "owned" the small details of his life. Without her, he has lost the intimacy that can only come with deep, attentive loving. He struggles with the feeling of having been ruthlessly shaken head-to-toe into an unwilling consciousness of someone else's life.

A few days ago, my father, who lives in the beautiful village of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, and often seeks comfort in his lovely garden, emailed me the photograph at the top of this post, alongside the following words:

"A tribute to my beloved Pauline who wasn’t granted the delight of beholding the splendour and fragrance of the tender Mimosa sapling which she vigilantly protected and lovingly nurtured for 5 patient years."

It had been her birthday gift to him in 2004, and she never saw it bloom during her lifetime.

I sent my father the following reply:

"I believe that your Mimosa blooming for the first time is Pauline's way of telling you that she loves and misses you. It is not an accident. There are many things in this universe which we will never logically understand ... that's the heart and beauty of the unknown. When you look at your Mimosa and smell its lovely fragrance, just know that your beloved Pauline’s spirit is there with you."

Right now, after a succession of honeyed April days, it is raining; raining as though the sun may never shine again. I huddle closer to my computer. I pull a blanket onto my knees. I enfold my hands around a mug of hot coffee. It seems to me that rain makes space more intimate. The golden Mimosa bush which wraps its scented solace around an eighty year old man’s grief, seems as close to me as the stream of rainwater glazing the trees outside my window.

Who wants a world that cannot rain or men who cannot cry?


  1. In turn, this is a warm tribute to your father, from you. I can see that you've inherited his gift with words.

    "There are many things in this universe which we will never logically understand ... that's the heart and beauty of the unknown."

    I couldn't agree more.

  2. A Very Moving Tribute.Yes A Death Causes Unexpected Echoes.
    It Isnt The Dark & Gloom We Imagine It To Be In Adolecence...........
    Rather.Often We Mourn The Most In Warmth&Sunshine. These Times We FEEL the Love but only SEE it in Reflections.

  3. I just read your Sepia Saturday post and felt sad and then happy that things seemed to have turned out well and then I read this and felt sad again. Both so beautifully written.

  4. There is so much in the universe that we do not understand. . . .

  5. Hi Jo

    you have written this story so beautifully and touchingly...I can feel your Father's loss and also your empathy for him. It is particularly poignant for me as my mother prepares to face life without my Dad.

    Happy days

  6. Martin: Thank you. It appears we may be as my beloved Anne of Green gables used to say, "kindred spirits".

    Tony: I've read your words several times ... Yes... we do see love only in the reflections. I hadn't thought of it quite that way before.

    Barbara: Thanks for your kind words.

    Susan: And, that's the beauty of it ...

    Delwyn: Thank you. I love the way we can touch each other through our words despite the distances between us. It really is a great spinning web of connection.