This ad will not display on your printed page.
It's April, and light sparkles in the leaves of my mother's old magnolia tree. I pull my rented white Ford Fiesta over to the curb, yank the hand brake, and sit gazing at the sun-drenched bungalow. For eight years, Mother lived here on the campus of the Christian Care Center in Dallas. Beside the two-bedroom house, the patch of soil where she once planted basil and thyme is now covered in roses.
I am revisiting the several houses where she lived and dropping in on the doctors' offices where we sat in waiting rooms together. I have eaten black-eyed peas with chili peppers. I have ordered grits to remind me of the tastes we shared. I have caught up with her friends at lunch, stopped by the greenhouses she frequented, and walked in the parks she loved.
Everywhere in Dallas, memories of my mother swim back. I see her turning the corner in her neighborhood grocery store, walking in her black flats down the ruby carpet in her church, stuffing a chicken with onions and loading it into her oven.
Now she is gesturing toward a brilliant pink peony on the lawn of the Christian Care Center. "Did you know a peony can live for 50 years?" she says. "This was dead in February, and look! Here it is again."
I get out of my rented Ford and walk over to the peony. It is blooming wildly. It has outlived my mother, who has been gone for years. I am thinking about how much she, a national flower show judge, loved perennials. I suspect that perennials reminded her of the Resurrection. It wouldn't be quite accurate to say that she had faith in the fact that there is life after death. I don't think the alternative ever occurred to her.
I touch the silky blossom of the peony, which shatters brightly on the grass.
According to the most recent statistics, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. One in three seniors dies with some kind of dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common. And more ...