Ruminations on Flowers, Time, and Moms: Thoughts on If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again


Today’s post is about Valentine’s Days and Flowers. But just a heads-up that I won’t be writing what you might be expecting me to write.

I still remember like it was yesterday. February 14, 1992. It was a Friday. And it was the worst day of my life.

Mom had been sick with cancer. She’d been in the hospital the previous few weeks. I got to spend some good time with her. There’s one moment I remembered very vividly. She needed help getting out of bed. She put her hand in mind and for the first time in her life, she leaned on me and relied on me for support to walk her across the room. I still remember so clearly how warm and soft and filled with love her hand was. But soon, they decided to stop the chemotherapy and the radiation. It was just too late. So she went home.

Prior to this date, I had never encountered loss, or grief, or pain. It was all to hit me in one terrible minute of that Friday. 5:04 PM. That’s when Dad walked into my room and told me. He said she just drifted away, as if she fell asleep. Later that evening, in a quiet moment, he would tell me that things would never be the same again. He was right.

I remember going slightly insane. Quite literally. I went into a shock that it would take me weeks to recover from. I kept thinking I would wake up and she would be back. I kept looking for her to walk in through the front door. Or I’d look for her on the sidewalk. My brother and sister, bless their hearts, humored me. But I was stubborn. If it could happen to Lazarus, why not mom?

The day of the funeral service came. I sat through the service, sat through the droves of people coming up to us with the words they could think of to say. “Her suffering’s over.” “She’s happy now.” “She’s in a better place.” And of course, the ever-popular “if there’s anything I can do for you…”. There never is.

After the service, the attendees slowly walked by the casket to pay their respects, and filed out of the room. Then, it was just our family. I remember my big brother put his hand on hers. He said a prayer and walked off. Then it was my turn. I did the same thing. And a chill went through my whole body. As warm and soft as her hands were a few weeks before in the hospital, they were now cold and rigid, due to the embalming. At that moment, I knew that this wasn’t mom there. What was there was just an empty shell. Mom was gone. And at that moment, the enormity of reality set in. And the tears finally started.

The funeral came and went. I would go to mom’s grave every week. Being right after Valentine’s Day, there were plenty of florists selling bouquets of flowers on sale. I would buy them and bring them to her gravesite. I did this a few times over the next few weeks. I’d buy a fresh bouquet of flowers, replacing the old, dying flowers that I’d left the prior week.

After a few weeks of this, something struck me. I’d never bought her flowers when she was alive. It’s not that I never thought of it, but I hadn’t had a job before then, so I just never have money to spend on flowers.

And I felt kind of cheated. I had just started working, and the first time I could buy my mom flowers, it was too late. Mom would never smell those flowers, or smile when she saw how pretty they were, or proudly arrange them in the living room, the bouquet her son gave her.

It’s then that I made myself a promise, maybe sort of a silly promise. I promised myself that whenever someone did something nice to me, I would buy them flowers. And so, over the years, when someone does something nice for me, or I just want to tell someone how much they’ve meant to me, I buy flowers. Ironically, in September 2004, I got hired to do Web Marketing for the world’s largest online florist. It’s funny, but I’ve worked for the world’s largest telephone company, and the world’s largest investment bank, but something about working at this company just seems very right.

Anyway, I guess the point of this entry is to say this. Don’t wait. Don’t wait until it’s too late to buy your mom flowers. Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell someone thanks. Or to tell someone that you love them.

I sometimes think. I would give everything I have, if only I could see mom again for 5 minutes. To tell her how her son is doing after 14 years. To tell her how much she means to me. To tell her how much I love her.

While they have ears to hear, tell them how you feel about them. While they have noses to smell, let them smell the flowers. While they have eyes to see, let them see you smile, not frown. Don’t wait until tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come.

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1.
How sweet and happy seem those days of which I dream
When memory recalls them now and then
And with what repture sweet my weary heart would beat
If I could hear my mother pray again

Refrain
If I could only hear my mother pray again
If I could only  hear her tender voice as then
So happy I would be twould mean so much to me
If I could hear my mother pray again

2.
She used to pray that I on Jesus would rely
And always walked the shining gospel way
So trusting still his love I seek that home above
Where I shall meet my mother some glad day

Refrain

3.
Within the old home place her patient smiling face
Was always spreading comfort hope and cheer
And when she used to sing to her eternal king
It was the songs the angels loved to hear

Refrain

4.
My work on earth is done the life crown has been won
And she will be at rest with Him above
And some glad morning she I know will welcome me
To that eternal home of peace and love

Refrain