Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rats, Geraniums and Mom

There was a city dump a few miles from our home in Number 3 Wireless in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg city dump was a favorite place for us kids at times. We went there to hunt rats. One of the kids had a bb gun and the rest of us had long poles with a nail on the end. We had taken a 2 x 4 nail, cut the head off and then, using a pair of pliers to hold it, drove the dull end into the end of the pole. The purpose was to try to hit a rat by throwing the pole at the rat with as much accuracy as we could.

The first trips to the dump were fun but the only kid who hit a rat was the guy with the bb gun. He had to shoot several times to get it done. He got lucky with one shot that stunned the rat but he kept firing until he got the job done, then finished it off with a heavy pipe he had found. For the rest of us there were seldom times we got a rat, even though there were hundreds of them, because they were faster than our crude poles.

There were men working at the dump but we could steer clear of them as the dump was huge.

Since Winnipeg is so flat the dump formed a hill and it was quite high, thus one could see a lot of country from the top. Years later I heard they abandoned it for a new site. After many years I understood they built a restaurant up there. I can imagine why because it was the highest point in the city. The standard joke was it was so flat there you could watch your dog run away from home for three days.

But I digress. During one of our hunts I found a red geranium in the dump. At first I walked by it but then went back and picked it up. It had dirt attached it and the dirt was pitch black. l looked around for a bucket to put the geranium in and finally found one that was the right size.
I had noticed that there was a small pile of black dirt in one spot. That usually meant the workers with the caterpillar hadn't pushed things into a tight bundle yet. I put some dirt in the pot and then headed home and found a safe spot for the gerananium.

I watered it and put it in the sun. I got a little absent minded and forgot about it for several hours. When I went to look at it, it was perking up. I watered it again and left it alone until the next day. I have since found out one should be generous with water for that flower. Being a kid, I was surely giving it more water than normal.

I asked a neighbor who was a flower person how to tell how much to water it and she said, "Put your finger into the dirt about one inch and if it is dry give it water." I did that for several days and that red geranium just blossomed. I triumphantly marched into the house and gave it to my Mother.

At first she was astonished. She wasn't the hugging type or the complimentary type either. She looked at me for a minute and a smile came to her face and she thanked me. For my Mom that was something.

I found out that geraniums could be kept for quite a while and I noticed a few months later there was more than one.

I got a clue that day as to my Mother's nature. One couldn't always hit her straight on with something; you had to approach it another way to get her attention.

Just before my mother passed away I went up to see her and she was still conscious. I felt a tug at my heart as I thought through what I was going to say to her.

I started by talking about all the good things I could remember. I must have had a ten minute conversation and she was so tired but she laughed a few times and finally I saw a tear come to the corner of her eye. I then knew I had accomplished the task of telling her I loved her in such a way that the hardness in her didn't come to the forefront.

I squeezed her hand and stood aside as some of my family came over to her. I went out in the hallway and finally my tears came and a Mom was gone. She did as much as she knew how for us. It was hard to like her but love is another thing.

I have since learned that the lives of some of us are so filled with despair and sorrow and a desperate reach that doesn't make the mark.

Some folks handle life with an appreciation for all that is around them, showing love, consideration, and respect for people and things.

People like my Mom spit in the eye of everything. Dried up from neglect and abuse, they can't go where there is happiness because of the bitterness they feel. My Mom mellowed some in the latter part of her life but always it seemed she could take a bone and suck the juice out of it. She could never leave some things alone. Still, she was my Mom and I always loved her.


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