With every change in season, I try to take a new bunch of silk flowers to my mother’s grave. Like so many others who do the same for their loved ones, bringing flowers is a way to honour her memory.
These times are tough as I usually shed a few tears and leave feeling a bit heart-broken. But my last visit was different and the difference was that this time my five year old granddaughter came with me and gave me much to think about.
I was babysitting Scarlett that day, so we went to a store to buy a bunch of fall flowers. I explained to her that these were for GG’s (great grandma’s) grave, but she didn’t really have much of a reaction so I assumed that this was just too difficult for her to comprehend.
On our short drive to the cemetery, Scarlett started to sing her own made-up song about GG. She sang about how much we missed her and how we still loved her. Her sweet lyrics told of my mother being up in the clouds and how there she was an angel looking down on us. I listened, intrigued by her words.
Once we arrived, Scarlett helped me and Gramps (my dad) take out the old flowers from the vase and arrange the new ones. She then proceeded to start brushing away the dry grass from the base and then shone up the headstone with a cloth that we had brought along. All the while Scarlett carried on a running commentary telling me that GG loved these flowers and was very happy that we were keeping “her place” tidy. She spoke simply but with great understanding, conviction and sincerity.
But what really mystified me was that Scarlett spoke as if she had known my mother and known her well, yet she was not even two when her GG passed away. My mother had been quite ill for the last few months of her life which, sadly, meant she was unable to make a strong connection with her little great-granddaughter. Maybe Scarlett had overheard us talking, but yet I doubted that was the case. And if we had spoken about GG, it certainly wasn’t about her love of flower arranging or her penchant for tidiness.
William Wordsworth wrote “The Child is father to the Man” in his poem “My Heart Leaps Up”. There are many interpretations of the meaning of that line, but I prefer the one that says children are all-knowing because they are closer to God than the rest us, and, therefore, can teach us much about immortality.
I don’t know if that interpretation has any validity, but what I do know is that for the first time since my mother had died, I left the cemetery feeling at peace. As we started to drive away, Scarlett waved through the window and said, “Bye, GG.” I smiled and whispered, “Talk to you soon, Mom.”