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Stealing Lilacs-A tribute to my Mother-by Heidi McLaughlin

Posted: May 14, 2023

The first time it happened I was only four. “Mommy why are we stealing these lilacs?” “Do those pretty flowers belong to us?” I was bewildered as I watched my gentle mother on her tiptoes reaching and snapping the branches from the vintage purple lilac bush.  Soon her arms were filled with bunches of purple and the succulent aroma made her smile from ear to ear. I must have been mistaken, my quiet and tender mother would never do anything wrong.  Certainly not steal. Captivated by my mother’s joy I clung to her hand and bounced along as we headed back to our compact bungalow nestled in a small village in Germany.

World War Two left bomb shelters, broken dreams and poverty throughout Germany. Yes, the rubble was being transformed into its former beauty and culture, but families were still struggling to re-establish their former lifestyle. My young and innocent mother was confined to the bareness and poverty after a devastating war, and I knew she longed for beauty. We were very poor. There was no garden to grow fresh vegetables or soil for my mother to grow the Dahlias, Sweet Williams, pansies or carnations.  Her heart yearned to fill our home with vases filled with cut flowers of every shape, color and fragrance.

When we moved to Canada it felt like paradise to have our own vegetable garden and flowerbeds. Mother and I with our knees close together, poked holes in the soil and she showed me how to gently insert the tiny seeds and cover them just right. Soon our yard represented a painting of asters, dahlias and any flowers that survived the harsh winters and cooler summers of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Often, I saw mother heading outdoors with a pair of scissors to cut just the right combination of flowers that filled many of our crystal vases. Finally, she had the freedom to unleash her inner desires and create a home filled with beauty, peace and fulfillment.

Over time I observed mother expressing and modeling beauty through various avenues. I was fascinated by the way she hung clothes out in the fresh air, laboriously and lovingly securing each item with the wooden cloth pegs. With perfection, she was able to iron and transform dried wrinkled messes into absolute perfection. For hours she was either on her knees or stooped over a buffing machine to wax and polish our floors until we could see our reflections. Somewhere in the house, there was always the aroma of a flower or the smell of freshly baked bread. She found it difficult to say, “I love you” but every day she reflected her love by creating images and fragrances that let us know we were the most important people in her life.

As the years passed I learned to appreciate and understand her quiet quest for peace and beauty. Now that I’m all grown up, I live in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Each spring the earth awakens with Saskatoon berry blossoms, forsythia bushes and daffodils. My joy erupts when I walk through the surrounding vineyards and then along a fence where I find a particular purple lilac bush.  Its branches creep outside of its normal enclosure and I just happen to have a pair of scissors in my pocket. Without hesitation I snip off a few branches, carry them home and put them into a vase to watch them burst open in all their splendour.

Through strolls in the meadows my mother cultivated my heart to explore and enjoy the simple things in life. I am so grateful that she modeled how to infuse simplicity with beauty to create a beautiful loving home. My mother taught me well.



Posted in: Acts of Service, ambiance, be creative, beauty, beauty and joy, beauty in God's creation, Families, gardening, God's creation, home sweet home, homes, lilacs, nature, relationships, stealing

2 responses to “Stealing Lilacs-A tribute to my Mother-by Heidi McLaughlin”

  1. Your story paints a beautiful picture, Heidi. I couldn’t resist reading when I saw your post about lilacs, my favorite flower. It’s always good to be reminded that beauty fills our soul.

    • hmclaughlin says:

      Thank you Candy it is so good to hear from you. I also love lilacs and that they are in bloom on Mother’s Day. It always evokes this beautiful memory with my mother. Blessings on you and belated HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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