Beauty is in the iris of the beholder

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Tough little plant serves as cheerful reminder

By Linda Ireland

I’ve just returned to work after taking a few weeks vacation. I needed some quiet time as the date Nov. 2 loomed. This was the one-year anniversary of the death of my 22-year-old son and if I could have crawled in a cave somewhere and avoided any pain associated with that date, that would have been fine with me.

But that isn’t the way it works.

If you try to hide from it, it waits for a chance to jump out and knock you down when you’re not expecting it.

So I tried to “take care of myself” as people are wont to tell me to do. Bud and I went to a Loretta Lynn concert at Renfro Valley (and yes, the old gal still has it) and the Smokies for a few days.

When I got back home, I wanted to work in my yard, so I stopped by Lee’s Garden Center to see what kind of bulbs or fall flowers they had.

I was walking around in a “just looking” mode and stopped in front of a few pots of beat-up looking irises. Saying “beat-up” isn’t a criticism – they looked perfectly healthy – just worn out from spring blooming and spending summer in a plastic pot.

All except one.

One yellow iris was blooming its head off. I had never heard of such a thing. Irises bloom in the spring – only. Not in the fall. I was standing there staring at it when Robin Lee, one of the store’s owners, walked up.

“That one reminds me of your mother,” she said.

Robin knew my mother for many years and was well acquainted with that kind little woman’s green thumb and her cheerful nature. She passed away about five years ago.

So I bought it and took it home and planted it where I could see it when I look out the window.

That flower really does look like her. No matter what happened, Mom could be counted on to make you feel better. She’d offer a kind word when needed or just sit and listen – which made her a very unique person.

I could have used her shoulder this past year, but I’m glad she did not have to go through the grief. Some things, no one should have to go through.

Everything else in the garden – including me – is drab and dreary and showing the effects of a few hard freezes, insect attacks and old age.

But Mom’s iris is still blooming. What a tough little plant.

I did some Internet research and discovered there are now hybrid irises that are reblooming or “remontant.” They bloom in the spring like other irises and again in summer and fall. I suppose that’s the type of flower I bought.

I prefer to think it’s a fluke – something one-of-a-kind that I had the good luck to stumble across.

At any rate, it makes me smile and that makes it worth its weight in gold.