I think I shall plant peonies. I shall fill all the holes in my gardens with these delightful, sun-loving, perennial shrubs. I shall plant peonies, not because I love them – which I do – but because my friend, Martha, loved them so.
Martha Brown Kerr’s sudden passing on September 22, 2012 left a gaping hole in my heart and in the hearts of her children, her parents, her siblings and other family, as well as her many, many acquaintances and friends.
I will fill all the holes in my gardens, and try to fill the hole in my heart, with peonies because Martha loved them so.
When peony shoots push up through chilly soil each spring, I will recall Martha’s intense inquisitiveness. I will feel Martha’s love of warming sunshine as new peony leaves unfold.
As my small, annual tribute to Martha’s unflinching willingness to support people in need, I will carefully place wire supports above each emerging stalk to help them handle their growing burden.
Then I’ll watch with wonder, as each peony bud begins to swell, and recollect how Martha felt as she encouraged and watched her children grow. Martha loved them so.
When the peony blooms unfurl, I will see Martha’s smile. When the blossoms dance in the warm May breezes, I will hear Martha’s laugh. When a passing shower deposits reflective raindrops on peony petals, I will see the sparkle of Martha’s piercing blue eyes.
And … I will pick peony bouquets – just as Martha did for me. Peony bouquets to share a bit of Martha’s touch with others not lucky enough to have peonies to pick themselves. Martha would like that.
As remaining peony blossoms fade I will tenderly snip off each as I recall all the large and small troubles Martha and I tried to help each other prune away.
For the rest of the summer I will enjoy the steady dark green hue peony leaves maintain when given enough space and sun and breeze. For the rest of the summer the peonies will act as a backdrop for other blooms, they will help other flowers shine, just as Martha cheered on and took pleasure in the accomplishments of people she knew.
When peony leaves succumb to the chill of autumn, often squeezing out a last color hurrah of deep purple-red hues, I’ll know the memories they hold. I will understand how they shared a bit of Martha with all who gazed upon their delightful flowers and inhaled their delicious scent. I will cherish that these peonies will lie in wait all winter long, protecting memories, until spring warmth awakens them once again.
Yes, I think I shall plant peonies, but not more white ones like those I already grow.
Yes, I will plant peonies, in every shade of pink, because my friend, Martha, loved them so.