This is the car we were taking, my grandparents' '51 dark green Chevy. I scrambled in the back seat between Gramma and Mom, ponytail no doubt slicked back and perfect. My mother was one of those Mommies in the Dick and Jane Books... nothing if not perfect. Then Daddy and Paw-paw turned around and produced three corsages, three colors of carnations all ready for their "girls." Red, pink, and white.
My gramma reached out automatically and took the white one, a sweet smile on her face and a proud tear in her eye. "I wear the white." Mom handed me the red, and she took the pink. I don't really think any symbolism rode on those choices except Mom knew her own mother loved pink the most, and mine loved red.
I remember as if I am saying it now, "Why did you want the white one, Gramma?" She softly told me it was the only one she could wear. "But why?"
"Well, my own mother is gone," Gramma told me. "I picked the white carnation because she has died." I sat there in silence (thank goodness) I'm glad I didn't rattle on what my mind was screaming. I was pretty sure I wouldn't want to pick a white flower if my mother were "gone.." I would want a red one to roar out that she wasn't dead at all. I wouldn't want to say to the world, "My mother isn't here today because she has passed away." I honestly sat and contemplated all that pretty much all the way to the restaurant.
Either my gramma was surely intuitive, or I was an especially loud thinker (and I'm fairly certain it was a little of both) but right before we got out of the car, she reached over and kissed me right on the forehead. "I wish you'd never have to find out. It won't be for a very long time... It's okay to wear the white. I love it because I loved Mommy." (I always thought it was so dear to hear her at her old age say Mommy and Daddy...)
And here I sit... over a half century later... finally having to symbolically choose the white.... because it is the first Mother's Day without my mom. We don't do carnations, or even going out to lunch any more to honor Mother's Day. It's usually something special I love to cook, a barbecue, or even yummy China Garden takeout. As long as I'm able to be with my son, I'm sure I'll be happy.
I'm ending with a beautiful picture of my mother as a young girl, right before she married my dad... and then a photo of my two grandmothers with me as a young woman. Gramma from this story is fixing the blue formal she made me for my second wedding, and Ma, my dad's mama, is showing me a crochet piece she is working on...
We will hug our Mamas or our memories close this weekend and honor them with real or imaginary carnation corsages of red, pink, yellow, or white... Much love...
I snapped this picture on Christmas morning 2015, two days before Mama's stroke.