My sister Helen had a birthday this past week. She was born in the final days of winter, and we caught up last weekend up in Auburn for another blow-away sponge cake and little celebration.She reminded me that the trees are always flowering for her birthday – as no doubt they were the day she was born. In our street there are prunus trees. The kids from the primary school planted a whole lot of them in the 1970’s. Helen herself planted one (see below).
Now each year in spring (and late winter) the street is a picture of colour and it is Helen’s birthday.
This reminds me of a lovely poem written by American poet Ted Kooser about his long-gone father who was born when the lilacs were blooming. Here it is…
May 19, 1999
Today you would be ninety-seven
if you had lived, and we would all be
miserable, you and your children,
driving from clinic to clinic,
an ancient, fearful hypochondriac
and his fretful son and daughter,
asking directions, trying to read
the complicated, fading map of cures.
But with your dignity intact
you have been gone for twenty years,
and I am glad for all of us, although
I miss you every day–the heartbeat
under your necktie, the hand cupped
on the back of my neck, Old Spice
in the air, your voice delighted with stories.
On this day each year you loved to relate
that at the moment of your birth
your mother glanced out the window
and saw lilacs in bloom. Well, today
lilacs are blooming in side yards
all over Iowa, still welcoming you.