I have this memory of a boy. A bittersweet memory more than 30 years old.
It’s my son. A skinny ten year old, crooked-toothed before braces, with a thatch of light brown hair and calm eyes. A tender child not given to tough boy play, more given to cats and books and a giggly prank or two. A boy who read the entire World Book Encyclopedia from A-Z. Pre-Google.
I stood at my kitchen window watching him at work in the back yard, still in his Catholic schoolboy uniform–navy pants, white shirt. Kneeling on the ground, bent to his task with garden spade in hand, transplanting some rain lilies he’d carried carefully from a neighbor’s yard to ours.
Rain lilies spring up wild every year in our part of Florida when the rainy season arrives. Usually in late spring. They’re a delicate flower with long, slender throats brushed with purple. He wanted to grow some of his own.
This gentle scene took place before his world and mine were taken by surprise. A surprise neither of us wanted. The upheaval would come in just a year, and this sweet boy’s life, and mine, would change forever. But just now, as I watched him, life as we knew it was still intact and he was just a kid melting his mom’s heart.
The memory always comes to me
when I see rain lilies.