It’s Mother’s Day here in Switzerland, and once again it falls on my mother’s birthday. She made it almost to 101, and would have been 105 today.
She was a lover of flowers and we made it a regular habit to visit a bluebell wood on her birthday (or as close as we could get) which always brought her great joy. England has plenty of bluebell woods, even in urban areas, and we usually didn’t have to go very far to find one. It became a tradition, and the 9 May will always be associated in my mind with woodland and bluebells. In fact, I wrote about her very last birthday trip to a bluebell wood here.
Yesterday, as I walked into the village I passed a garden with bluebells growing in its undergrowth – Spanish bluebells rather than English ones and not exactly a bluebell wood like you’d find in England, but a tiny vignette of one: a small gift gratefully received. Bluebells aren’t a traditional Mother’s Day flower, but for me they will always be associated with my mother.
Actually, her favourite flower was lily-of-the-valley, which also could be found blooming in Mom’s garden around this time. If it wasn’t, I would buy her a potted plant with the tiny white bells.
This flower is a traditional gift in France on 1 May – a nice legend here, by the way, that goes back to the Renaissance. It was a custom to give flowering branches to friends as a way of driving out the hardships of winter. In 1560 King Charles IX was visiting the Drôme where he was offered a spray of lily of the valley. On 1 May of the following year, he presented every lady in his court with a spray of this fragrant little flower as a token of good luck.
On my table today is a vase of bright yellow, fragrantly scented roses, a gift from my daughter who visited me a couple of days ago. The number of mothers in our immediate family has grown to four, with my daughter sandwiched between the generations, so today she is fulfilling her role as mother and grandmother rather than as daughter. I hope – and am pretty sure – that her children and grandchildren will have shown their love and appreciation for all she does for them (far more than anyone could expect).
It has been a bright, sunny day, filled with the song of the blackbirds who seem to have nests all around here, also celebrating their motherhood, no doubt. I have also been able to chat with my granddaughter and newest great-granddaughter. I am feeling very blessed.