Bleeding hearts. Dicentra spectabilis. One of the sweetest of the spring blooms, it is an ethereal charmer, with wispy sprays of fern-like leaves and arching strings of heart shaped flowers.
As I wandered the front gardens on Mother’s Day, thinking of my own mother, I noticed the bleeding hearts in full dress, and I recalled the mentors and caretakers, teachers and friends; the other women of my life who guided and comforted me along the way.
Aunt Christina; my father’s sister. Her eldest son is my cousin Ted, whose name often appears on the pages of this blog. My aunt was the one who showed me how to wear a sanitary napkin when my own mother wasn’t home and she bought me my first pair of nylons and garter belt. She also soothed my fears when our younger daughter had a serious hand injury, saying “Penny, have a good cry now, then move on!” Survival.
Mrs. Cannella; a friend’s mother who was both my champion and confidante. She would greet me at her back door with “Hello, Penny. How’s Tom?” – just to see me light up like a lamp. She called me, every year, around Mother’s Day, for 20+ years, just to see how I was and have a bit of chat. At my bridal shower, she purposefully sat next to someone who did not approve of our marriage and made a point of expounding on how much everyone loved Penny and what a good wife she would be. Loyalty
Another-One-Yia Yia; my great-aunt, was the sister of my own Yia Yia. Another-One-Yia Yia had no grandchildren of her own, so, took on my sister and I as if we were her granddaughters as well. She would torture us with tickles whenever she came over. She always remembered us with gifts on our birthdays and Christmas – most of which were surely bought on Maxwell Street. I’ve written before about Another-One and the peony pink pouf of a dress that she gave me for my birthday when I was in sixth grade. It finally fit me for my 8th grade graduation. I still have the picture and can assure you, I was a walking wonderment that attracted more butterflies than boys. You can imagine my shock when a woman came up to me at Another-One’s funeral and said “It’s too bad she had the heart attack going to get her hair done for your shower. ” To make matters even more dramatic, Another-One-Yia Yia already had a gift before she died, which I opened at the shower, tears hanging in my eyes. I still use the silverware 41 years later. Undying love.
There are more hearts in my story, of course. I’ve been blessed with a bouquet of women who have graced my life and new ones who continue to bloom for me. They loved me, gave me strength, showed unbroken loyalty. They cried with me, laughed with me, gifted me, encouraged me, and have enriched my life in more ways than I count.
Do you have a Dicentra Spectabilis (in either plant or human form)?
(To read more about Another-One-Yia Yia, go to https://lifeonthecutoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/another-one-yia-yia/)