2. My Mother’s Birthday

freshly-pressed-rectangleMy parents were often told that I was a precocious child, not that they needed to be told.  I didn’t always know why it was important to do something, but somehow I knew that some things had to be done.  I was unusually eager to please but of course, I had no idea about consequences.

This story concerns my mother’s 35th birthday as told to me by various family members over the years.  A few years earlier my father had gotten a new job at a company on Cape Cod and not too long after that they had picked out a nice house in a small town.  There was a bit of land with the house and my mother, originally from Newark, Ohio, loved to work in her flower gardens around the house.  There were always flower and gardening catalogues around the house and now they could afford to put in some more upscale gardens.  The focus this particular year was on imported Dutch tulips.  She had wanted these tulips for many years and this was the first time that they were able to have them.  Much planning went into this project, from placement, to type, to height, to color.  This was going to be a masterpiece.

JT_tulipsBy October, everything was ordered and delivered and the great tulip project began.  Stakes and string were everywhere until all the bulbs were planted at the proper depth for a perfect bloom in late April or early May.  Rarely did a week go by that winter without some discussion about the tulips.  Did we put them in right?  Did we arrange them right?  As it happened that year, there was just the right amount of rain, just the right amount of sunshine, and just the right amount of warming temperatures for the perfect flower garden.  By late March and early April, the jonquils and daffodils came up perfectly in their usual places.

As you can see, my mother brought me out to see my very first flower garden.  She was so excited and enthusiastic; I must have thought this was extremely special.  Everyone was very excited that over the next month the now much-anticipated tulip garden would bloom.  Each week there would be an inspection tour of the garden until finally the first of the tulips began to show through the ground.  Day by day, everyone watched and waited until one Saturday morning the whole family went out to see the finished garden.  I am told that there was never a more proud family on the street.  Happiness filled the air, special meals were cooked, desserts were baked, and as it happened the next day was my mother’s birthday.  That night when she put me to bed, I asked her what she wanted most for her birthday.  She told me that she already had what she wanted more than anything, her beautiful tulips.  I went to sleep that night thinking that I knew exactly what I would get my mother for her birthday and it would be the best present she had ever gotten.

The next morning we all went to church and then as a special treat for my mother, we all went out to lunch.  When we came home, everyone went about his or her own activities for the afternoon.  Of course, my activity was playing out in the yard.

jt_tulipI knew exactly what I wanted to do today.  I wanted to make my mother’s birthday the best she’d ever had.  Therefore, I went about my business, slowly and carefully, until I thought I was done.  I had picked nearly every one of my mother’s prized tulips and formed them into a rough bouquet that I could carry.  You can see there weren’t many left for the picture.  I brought my big bouquet of flowers into the living room where my mother and father were reading the Sunday newspaper.  I stood right in front of my now speechless mother and said quite loudly, “Happy Birthday Mom!”

Well, the strangest thing happened.  No one spoke, no one laughed, and no one did anything.  It was as if time had stopped for a few seconds.  My father and mother looked at each other with an emotional cocktail that must have included rage, love, humor, and a dash of defeat.  My mother gave me a big hug and thanked me for the flowers and we put them in a vase full of water.  My father then thought it might be a good idea to document this little episode and with a shake of his head and a little smile on his face, the picture was taken.

© J T Weaver

Related Posts:    How Did I Ever Survive    Water, Air, and Dirt  Lazy   The Eyes Have It  Watching The Time

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About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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149 Responses to 2. My Mother’s Birthday

  1. Deepak Singh says:

    Thank you for visiting and following “deepakdheer”. I am honored. DNA may be unique for each of us but our journey have some common road with bumps and street lights showing us that we are not alone who are trying to pass through…..i like your story very much as it relates to me too. On one occasion i presented my grandmother with a small mixed flower and fruit garden, taken out from her yard which was not so far from her house, about which i knew nothing. And i wasn’t as lucky as you are but they loved me ever since remembering this incident.

    Like

  2. VenusVee says:

    Oh my gosh… Ha ha I know exactly how your mother felt. On my birthday my daughters decided to go outside and take roses that their grandmother planted 2 days before, they heard me say how much I loveddd yellow roses, so my 10 year old took her school scissors cut nearly all of them and put them in a vase. I was horrified and felt pure terror all at once but with a big ole smile in my face. The grandmother , well lets just say I had to spend money on my own birthday to replace the flowers. 🙂

    Like

  3. Ajaytao2010 says:

    So beautiful a story sir I simply loved it and feel so nice

    thanks for sharing

    Like

  4. pitagox2 says:

    un racconto dedicato alla famiglia e alle generazioni, un fulcro di relazioni, affetti, esperienze, qui tramite i tulipani. che bello! anche le fotografie. un saluto.

    Like

  5. I have a similar childhood story. Floral beauty has fascinated me for as long as I remember. As a 3-year-old, captivated by the neighbor’s yard of blooming daffodils, I presented a giant bouquet to my shocked mother. She gently thanked me but told me I had to apologize to the neighbor. I tearfully said sorry, so bashful, not really meaning it because I loved the flowers, but I hated to feel the guilt of unknown sin to that point. I relate so well to this story. Thank you for your follow, and I’m happy to follow you now as well.

    Like

  6. mamacurry says:

    Loved your story

    Like

    • J T Weaver says:

      Thank you, I appreciate it.

      Like

      • mamacurry says:

        I picked my next door neighbor’s prize winning roses one year when I was four. I had “helped” him the day before cut some zinnias and daisys for a shut in. My neighbor’s wife was sick so I thought I would help him out and cut her a bouquet. He was so gracious and loving….the flower show was the next day. I didn’t know about that part of the story til I was in my thirties and paid him a visit with my children. He told me about it while he kept close watch on my children who were admiring his roses! LOL.

        Like

  7. Very sweet…thanks for sharing.

    My brother did the same in my mom’s flower garden. She went out to pick flowers from her garden to take to a big church function…she had promised them…and my brother had picked off only the flowers from each stem. No bouquet could be made and no flower saved.

    This happened probably 50 years ago and I still remember!!!

    Like

  8. What a beautiful story . .. I am awestruck

    Like

  9. mrsstobias32 says:

    Great story to read! It made me think of my two daughters who loves to pick my flowers and everyone around us. I told my girls on easter sunday that i loved the easter lilly they had picked from our garden and neighbors garden. My next door neigbor was not so loving about it. So i told my daughters that if you leave the flowers in the garden they would live longer and we could water them more then once. Had to think fast but not hurt there feelings. Your mother and father showed what great parents do when our kids do what they do best!

    Like

  10. prettypinkpebbles says:

    i myself have a 5 year old boy and i can well imagine him doing something similar. will be careful while i express my wishes to him :). thanks for a lovely read.

    Like

  11. As a son, I can relate to your experience. As a father with two sons of my own I am moved by the loving and gracious way your parents reacted. Thank you for sharing the story.

    Like

  12. taniaealves says:

    Lovely story! Congratulations
    Thanks for share with us.
    Tânia

    Like

  13. valentina says:

    No wonder you were “freshly pressed”. It’s a lovely, lovely story. One to cherish for a lifetime! No Siria, Miley Cyrus or Jodie Arias for a couple of minutes. Refreshing indeed! 😀

    Like

  14. janni518 says:

    My kids picked me wildflowers, completely with bugs that usually bit me.

    Thanks for sharing that excerpt. I have a feeling that was just the start.

    Like

  15. Karl Drobnic says:

    You are not alone. My brother did something very similar when he was two and the first tulips of the new flower gardens at our new house came into bloom. It didn’t result in a photo-shoot, though.

    Like

  16. It’s such an honour to read this beautiful post, thanks to WordPress. This sweet post is so deservedly Pressed. I love the way you tell the story, calmly and very soothing.

    “No one spoke, no one laughed, and no one did anything. ” These words are just magical. Thank you for taking me to the very scene witnessing the utter silence.

    I’ll come back to read more of your stories. Thank you.

    Like

  17. D.Wood says:

    I enjoyed that!

    Like

  18. debra colby says:

    And there was absolutely nothing anyone could say….b/c your heart was in the right place. What a lovely story, thank you for sharing it w/us.
    Debbie

    Like

  19. edemiri says:

    Reblogged this on ahippyhippyhop.

    Like

  20. The Rider says:

    Parents would remember the spirit it was given in much longer than the actual prize flowers!

    Like

  21. Lori Lipsky says:

    What good motives you had…and what a gracious response you received. Thanks for sharing the story, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!!

    Like

  22. ebeams says:

    Congrats! You’ve “arrived” … 🙂

    Like

  23. Joy says:

    OMG I would have flipped!! LOL… This totally made me smile! Your parents are so gracious and adorable!

    Like

  24. candidkay says:

    Anyone but your mother might have killed you:)

    Like

  25. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! It’s great when you’re able to keep the family stories alive for future generations. … Dorothy 🙂

    Like

  26. Lakia Gordon says:

    Picture is SO cute 🙂 Enjoyed the story! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  27. A wonderful story. An sweet little boy and an amazing mother. 🙂

    Like

  28. What a wonderful story that shows what amazing parents you had!! And, today is MY birthday (36), and MY favorite flowers are tulips, so I loved this all the more. Even more wonderful is the fact that you have pictures of the event. As a mom of 3, I can totally relate to this. Especially seeing as today has been mostly about my normal motherly duties, and not much “celebration” in the traditional sense. Love love love this post. 🙂

    Like

  29. Oh dear, what understanding parents – but then such a thoughtful gift for your mother’s birthday…

    Like

  30. awax1217 says:

    Picture perfect. The innocence of the act and the understanding of your parents.

    Like

  31. vishd29 says:

    Love and innocence in the purest form..nice one!

    Like

  32. lenkennedy says:

    Hi JT,
    What a precious memory. Beautifully written.
    Thank you,
    Len

    Like

  33. You write with such emotion and I am gripped by your words. I enjoyed this 🙂

    Like

  34. Kate says:

    Reblogged this on kateschannel and commented:
    Funny story.

    Like

  35. seeker says:

    As a child, you meant well and your Mother is a gracious lady. Dad is just a good. Funny.

    Like

  36. MBA2MFA says:

    Brilliant, thoughtful blog, and the best gift a father could ever give his grown children.

    Like

  37. Now that’s parenting.

    Like

  38. Loved the story and how you are passing it on to your kids. As a gardner, i know the angst of the proffered bouquet. You have really inspired me and I’m sad I’ve discovered you just about the time most of it will disappear.

    Like

  39. jennliew says:

    What a beautiful little story and moment it must have been, for you and your family, especially your mom. Tulips are my favourite too ^_^

    Like

    • J T Weaver says:

      So they tell me. That was one of the “oral history” stories that has been told and re-told over the years. Thank you very much for reading, I’m glad you liked it.

      Like

  40. Athena Brady says:

    How lovely of your mum to take your gift in the spirit it was offered.

    Like

  41. tchistorygal says:

    So funny! What kid hasn’t done that? My grandmother was absolutely crazy about her yard. We lived in Indianapolis and were together lots. On every occasion the first thing we did from early spring to late fall was to walk around the yard inspecting the flowers, garden, and anything else that was growing in the yard. My husband and I still do that today in our yard here in California. Old habits die hard. 🙂

    Like

  42. This made me think of something recently. I was painting a panel for a friends wedding and had to find another tube of paint in my office so my almost finished painting sat unsupervised around my three and five year old daughters.
    When I came back into the room, there was a hole in the canvas. My oldest said… ‘Look Mom, I help!’
    She had tried to draw on it with a pencil and pressed to hard.
    First hand, I know that look that your parents shared. I couldn’t get mad. I just looked at her… said Thank You and gave her a hug.

    Like

  43. Laura says:

    Awesome story! I’m so glad your parents reacted the way they did, as opposed to negatively. Great pic, too!

    Like

  44. Gallivanta says:

    Oh THAT moment! It is never forgotten.

    Like

  45. mixedupmeme says:

    Developers have taken over and everybody has to conform. Home Owners Associations dictate what is allowed.
    As kids we used to run through the neighbors yards and take short cuts through allies. I don’t think anybody ever minded. LOL I am sure my folks got a few telephone calls about their wild kids. 😦

    Like

  46. mixedupmeme says:

    I like the white picket fence. My father built a white picket fence when my brother was young so he couldn’t leave the yard. We also grew tulips and peonies. Vines grew up and over a little trellised seating area over a cistern. A nice place for the dolls and doll buggies.
    I so dislike the big board fences between yards in subdivisions today. 😦

    Like

    • J T Weaver says:

      I liked the pickets as well. Around us people do “natural fences” made with trees, bushes, and all manner of things that are difficult to take care of. I think today people just don’t talk to each other like we did when I was little. Hence the tall fences. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  47. jatwood4 says:

    I can tell I’m going to like these posts a lot. lovely!

    Like

  48. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    oh I had to smile on this one !
    my children did the same thing….
    I did have the prettiest Spring bouquet EVER…
    inside my house not in the gardens though…
    I feel for your Mother and Be thankful you are here telling ths story
    I know what was going through mind and smile..
    Great Post!
    Take Care
    )0(
    ladyblue

    Like

  49. You had a very gracious Mom, with the right priorities!

    Like

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