My Imaginary Mother in Winter

photo by Paul Mayer


It was my mother who prompted me to bring home the poinsettia plant this week. We will be going away for the holidays, but she was with me at the market and couldn’t resist the display.

Mom’s with me all the time now.

“O.K., O.K.” I said, “but we’re going to do it a little differently this year.” I sound like the mother now.

Typically I go for the creamy white, and she, the fire engine red. Together we took home the faded pink and we’re loving it. It lifts color from the rug and puts a blush on the complexion of everyone in the room.

Not too long ago I had to haggle with time zones, flight schedules, and getting to and from airports. Now she’s here, as I said. A companion for me in my rather reclusive life as a writer on a sparsely populated island, especially in winter.

Without her I’d be lonely.

Mom doesn’t fall ill anymore, she’s simply well. We figure out what to wear, share books, plan menus, and set spectacular tables. She’s tickled to find her silver here and thrilled when we use it. No matter how many guests, there is always room for Mom at the table.

She’s a part of me now, particularly outdoors. I always knew Mom would love this place. Yesterday we took it upon ourselves to plant the narcissi. That enormous bag of bulbs had been sitting on the floor of the mud room for two months. I had almost forgotten about it, but she remembered. We took an eyesore, a barren bank on the side of the drive, and popped into the ground 30 trumpet daffodil to bloom in early spring, 30 in mid spring, and 30 in late spring. Mom was almost giddy. The weather was raw and I was just happy to see she wasn’t cold and her back didn’t ache in the digging.

It’s my back now that’s going.

I know of nothing like bulbs for staying forward looking in life. Growing amaryllis bulbs indoors in the Christmas season is a tradition mom instilled in us years ago. There are times when I would gladly forego everything about the holiday but that. I measure my days by its stalks.

Likewise that dirt bank in the drive is going to pull us through the winter months, I just know it. There the bulbs will rise like a standing ovation, proclaiming there will always be another spring.

One way or another.


Filed under amaryllis

15 responses to “My Imaginary Mother in Winter

  1. Debra Steel

    A beautiful post Kim. Love you

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Virginia Loomis Jylkka

    My sister, Deb Loomis, shared this with me. It rings with such familiarity. It isn’t easy, but there are comforting moments. 💞

  3. Deb

    Just lovely writing, Kim. Once again! Deb D.

  4. Kim, Hi. I just read this. Lovely, again! I especially love the image of the bulbs rising like a standing ovation…that’s gorgeous.

  5. Jane Clarke

    This is so beautiful…and my mom says Lois always added alot of love and light at a recollection also is of Suffield pervaded by the garden club and driving by covies of women planting and tending on all fours..I love the comfort of your imaginary mother and am reminded of how I had to revisit a young child’s separation anxiety when Miggs departed. Here is a fictional depiction of the sense of loss. Remember our visits to NYC?

    Separation Anxiety

    Sunset on New York’s skyline as
    ten years old, I watch
    the march of people,
    honking cars,
    from 32nd floor window,
    tense behind black-rimmed glasses.

    Early autumn air
    conjures mother’s fragrance,
    tousling my hair while I count
    her imagined, high-heeled
    steps from front door,
    elevator, subway, office, and return.

    To unlock the pattern of her goings and comings,
    I fixate on the mantel’s digital clock,
    recall a first-grade circle
    with cotton hands crayoned for her
    on a paper plate.

    Hearing a phantom sound,
    I hallucinate on her key
    scraping the lock.

    Looking forward to a picture of the narcissi on the bank as they come to full attention. love as always, Jane

  6. How special to see you and be with you, Janie. We mustn’t ever wait so long. Love that you are writing poems. Indeed I heard your mother’s pumps on the steps. Send me more!

    • Jane Clarke

      Please let’s carve out more sort old memories out and to create new ones…perhaps Wiggins Tavern was another soul and just another page from our playbook…but there were so many where I imagined you there or you were there in spirit..always have loved your writing…an inspiration for us all…xxoo

  7. Christine

    Lovely, KIM. You expressed the sentiments all of us feel who have lost our mothers. I lost mine so long ago now, but she is still my constant companion!

  8. Thank you, Christine. I can see that it isn’t going away, and for that I am only grateful.

  9. Pingback: Flip Flops in January: Three Girls and a Truck at Village Nurseries, San Diego | a little elbow room

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