It finally happened last year– I went to look in the mirror and saw my mother. I thought about how swiftly life can zoom past while we are in the fast lane, but when we move over to the slow lane, we get a glimpse of the rearview mirror. Flowers and quilts come to mind. The next time you pass a flower, entirely in bloom, standing in all its glory, stop, and drink in its perfume and vibrancy because it will fade, but so will we. Each flower, from the red velvet petals of the rose, to the lemony yellow buttercups will have its moment when it stands proudly at attention, marching out in all its glory.
And so will we.
First things first– the flower. A tiny seed encased in a hard coat gets pushed down into the dark soil. A tiny sprout, a tiny leaf, a tiny stem, and a tiny birth has happened. Picture a baby in the womb coming out of darkness into the marvelous light of life. Our environment can be dangerous. Some seeds need to go through a fire in order to survive. Some seeds need more nutrients and more light. It’s the same way with us.
Plants and flowers are all different and have different needs. Some plants are early bloomers, and a small bud of a flower may appear after a few days, but other plants can take years to bloom. I started college at thirty. I became comfortable in my skin in my forties, but I still have days where I do not like my body image and especially after rounds of steroids. Many of us have heard the phrase, “I was a late bloomer.” It’s true. We all know someone in High School that was nerdish who later became gorgeous. Well, on the outside at least. The flower buds. It has already formed completely, but it lays tightly closed up and protected until that moment when the flower opens up and presents itself to the world. Think caterpillar and butterfly. One of the saddest things is to be standing in all your glory and have no one takes notice or validate you.
Alice Walker said this in the book The Color Purple. “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see its always trying to please us back.”
Notice your spouse, notice your children, your dearest friends, see the sweet spirit in your pets and yes, notice a flower.
Another quote often spoken is “Don’t forget to smell the flowers.”
This stage in life is often a person in their late twenties and thirties. This is the period where the flowers vivacious colors and pleasant aroma attract bees and pollination happens. This is the time most couples have children and reproduce; others give birth to their dreams. Some are still brightly blooming in their forties. Henry Ford invented his model T when he was 45, Vera Wang became a famous designer at 40, and Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50.
Then once you pass this period you, reach the 60’s and 70’s and the vibrant colors, and the sweet smelling fragrance is starting to fade. The red velvet petals turn pale and begin to drop. The limbs begin to lack strength, and before you know it, you realize you are a flower fading fast– here today and gone tomorrow.
So how do we deal with this later stage, this golden era? At times it can be difficult. You see youth in others and vitality, and you realize that when you had it, you were not even aware of its worth and more so if you have health issues. But something else happens, you begin to appreciate life. You notice the small things, and you appreciate the time others give you. You notice the wonder in the birth of a baby. You see the miracle of creation, and you begin to realize that all your years and all your situations helped create you like a quilt that was hand pieced by the Creator.
My aunt makes quilts. She has won several awards for her quilts and has many ideas for different types of patterns she would love to create. When I last spoke with her at her home, she explained to me a vision she had of a quilt that was intricate in detail and involved flowers, a garden, and a brick pathway.
She has the vision in her mind already for what she wants to create. She can pick up a scrap of material that you and I would see nothing special in and know exactly how to use it with another piece to make a tree’s bark or a robin’s nest. To us, the scraps may not look like much, but to her, it’s a collaboration of colors and patterns and shapes forming one elaborate piece of collaged beauty. A quilt of many colors.
The potter makes out of the clay a vessel of his liking. We live and breathe and have our day under the sun. Some days are beautiful, and other days it’s as if creosote has been smeared upon our fabric. Our quilts become dirty, sticky, dragged through the muck, or worse, tucked away in a closet with mothballs, considered old and outdated, and antiquated. On other days, our quilts are spread out for a picnic, young lovers cuddle up, warm babies tucked in tightly, a fire lit, a bed dressed, a table spread, a beautiful patchwork of warmth waiting for someone to notice the detailed stitching and vivid colors, patterns, amongst the threads that are coming apart, the backing peeking out and a frazzled edge exposing cotton. There are laugh lines and smile lines and places where sagging has taken place from a toddler tugging on our hems, and the fragrance of all the hands and feet and breaths that breathed into our fabric, sharing in the warmth of our quilted soul.
Yes, multiple hands mend our tattered edges, and we in our later years are still able to be a shelter from the cold for someone. The patterns repeated and passed down to those whose tiny feet slept atop its cloth.
Shine in your colorful purple silks and when you’ve begun to fade, find warmth in your soft worn touch, your lingering scent, and all the hands that folded you and found a piece to connect to your patterns and your beauty and stitched themselves along your heart.
Bloom in your moment and for Pete Sake, SMELL THE FLOWERS!