Mimosa Legacy

Mimosa Legacy

i.                                             Near the spreading mimosa canopy

we sat. Powder puffs soft and Southern formed a pink parade.

Sweet perfume lingered from that world, a world of

Our Father’s filled with hummingbirds and butterflies.

From Lebanon this heirloom seedling came—a love note

Aunt Peggy sent us off the mother tree; a daughter mimosa

blessed our return from foreign soil, home. That tiny seedling

grew, swollen to capacity like a giant umbrella shading our yard,

teemed with life, this year, like Lebanon’s original one had,

like Grandma’s did in Dunn. As children, we girls scaled

the tree, picked its sweet-scented puffs. Other heirloom plantings,

hand cut with love, seedlings and crocuses met us winging

home from overseas. I treasured the poetry of the flowers

Peggy shared, tossed across the highway divide like a bouquet—

heritage flowers bearing names that read like A Child’s Garden

of Verses—lily of the valley, daffodil and jonquil, peonies

and pansies, magnolia, Star of David, antique rose and mums,

silver bells and cockle shells.


ii.                                             I can see Aunt Peggy kneeling

by the great elm oak—bed around its roots trowel-tended,

flowers birthed under deft strokes by fingers which mastered

the ivories as well, bounced over keys. She sang songs appropriate

to every occasion, silly or serious, like Toothpick Alice

who washed herself down the tub drain. We heard her play

the Blues, Broadway hits, Bach’s cantatas, Czerny’s exercises,

Bethoven, Mozart, and Liszt. Peggy and Granny Mac gathered

us around the baby grand with hymns we all would sing.

Aunt Peggy’s wit was a sharp tool that honed a pithy truth,

words sliced facts accurately. Grandma’s character alive

in just three words, “whim of iron.” To the man who died

in a flight of helium balloons tied onto his chair, the word

was, “Let that be a lesson to him.”


iii.                                              Aunt Peggy poured skill

and energy into the arts, brought symphonies to the school,

art exhibits to the county. At First Presbyterian, she chose

the Sunday anthem, taught choir members how to pronounce,

hold notes, come in on time, hit the right key. Her soft spot,

her passion, was her children, inviting cousins in, as well.

Family watched as hope dipped to agony as for two hours

we searched for Gene. She wandered, heart breaking, until

she found him slumped low in the jeep asleep after a game

of hide ‘n seek. She burned the highway up looking for Louise

and me. Lost in the woods two miles down. Anger surfaced

once we were safe, in justice meted out—me banned from

your presence, separated two weeks—one for each hour of pain.


iv.                                             We spent a winter with you

at Lebanon when our heater broke. Aunt Peggy and Uncle Gene

absorbed us as their own; she invited us to Christmas in MacDonald;

where I read stories to Granny Mac in bed. Aunt Peggy followed

each of us with avid interest, detailed her grandchildren’s, great-nephews’

and nieces’ whereabouts, talents, interests, hurts, and victories

with love and concern. She dared tell me when my mothering

should change. Aunt Peggy’s presence lingers among us, joins

that of Uncle Gene’s: their legacy is our heritage. A canopy

of  blossoms rises from green leaves, forms a house like a mimosa

of diversely-grafted children, scented flowers, of rosemary and sage.


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