Thursday, June 15, 2006

memory and marigolds

I’ve lost friends and family members to death before, but it wasn’t until Kathy died that I realized how much of my own life story went with her. When she died, knowledge of me died, too. It wasn’t the big things—lots of people know the big picture. It was the little details that fill in the nooks and crannies of who I am. Like marigolds. I love the smell of marigolds that remain on my fingers after deadheading them. It’s a tiny detail that happened to come up once when Kathy and I were talking, and I realized then that it was an intimate detail.

When she died, no one else knew about that. I became aware of that loss when I planted marigolds this spring, and deadheaded them for the first time. I have since shared this particular detail with Ken, but it only occurred to me to do so because I was freshly aware that the primary keeper of my memory was gone. It got me thinking about other things that Kathy and I shared, some of which can pass with her, and others of which I may want to entrust with others.

As we age and lose more and more of the people close to us, I am realizing that it is the loss of the person as well as our memory that goes with them that is part of our sadness. I believe that we all long to be known. We have our warts that we’d just as soon not see the light of day, of course, but I believe that, more often than not, we want someone to know us and see us down to our nooks and crannies.

I have now entrusted my love for the smell of marigolds to each of you. You may not remember it in future days, but at least the knowledge has been released to the universe, and I can be content with it being “out there.”

Bless you all, your nooks and crannies, and all the things about you that we know and have yet to discover.


karen said...

Marigolds....thanks for rekindling that memory for me...Dad used to plant "tons" of marigolds along the front walk, the tall yellow ones in the middle and shorter ones with brown along the edges...with some dusty miller in between....and yes the smell...they do have a distinct smell. One of the summer smells I call them. Those and the warm smell in the air after a summer shower and the sun is drying the rain on the sidewalk...

Kay said...

Yes, you are right. When Olan's mother died, (quite a few years after his dad's death, he told me "I just feel so lonely", and I understood what he meant. There was no one left who remembered him as a small boy with all of his foibles. We are entwined with otehrs in memory.

samtzmom said...

What a beautifully, insightful post dear friend. Yes indeed... when someone passes over, we do lose having someone who "got" us and shared our own special idiosyncrasies. I'd never thought about it like that, and the fact that it indeed is a reason it hurts so much. I will keep this fact about marigolds in my memory for you... Blessings to you this beautiful day.

Gail said...

Very true words, Anne! Thanks for the reminder.

madcow said...

This post has had me thinking all morning. I just can't get it out of my head. This is why I visit your blog every day and this is why I love you so dearly. xxx

Mata H said...

You are so right. I will hold your marigold knowledge with others now as well.

I lost my last living relative 6 months ago. The very last. I looked at a box of photos the other day and realized that I was the last person on earth for whom they would have any meaning. And that when I go the meaning of these pictures winks out of the world. *poof*

The real lonliness of grief is the loss of shared memory.

:Jayne said...

Wow! Well said. Makes me realize how important this little hobby of mine is, I want to get it all down, about everyone I love, before it is gone forever.



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