In 1963, my parents took a trip to Sweden in the early spring. It had been many years since they had been in Sweden and it was the first time they went as a married couple. Through the years, I heard both of them describe that as a time of great happiness. One of the things my mom brought back to Colombia from that trip was a single hyacinth bulb. She kept it in the refrigerator for a few weeks and then managed to get it to grow and bloom.
One evening, when it had finally bloomed, she invited the Swedes in Cali for dinner at our house. Most of them had emigrated from Sweden in the mid nineteen twenties. These Swedes had moved to Colombia to escape the devastation of the economic depression of the era and, though they all managed to make a living for themselves, it was not easy, travel back to Sweden was expensive and difficult; most them, in their late fifties and sixties already knew they would never get to see Sweden again.
After dinner, my mom cleared away the dishes and left only a couple of lit candles on her dining room table. Then she went into the kitchen, took the hyacinth out and put it in the middle of the table. I can still hear her describe how you could hear a pin drop in the room that had about 12-18 people gathered around one small plant. She looked around and even the men had tears running down their faces.
Last fall, I ordered bulbs for the garden, including hyacinths. I couldn’t even begin to imagine that within a couple of months, we would begin the process of moving my dad in with us.
Last night we had bad storms, though not as bad as they could have been. The wind is still howling and the day is very overcast. I was concerned about my chicken girls and had to spend some extra time cleaning out their water dispenser and putting fresh food out for them. As I was leaning over the water bucket, scrubbing it out, I noticed something pink in one of my flower beds and by the shape, I knew. One of the hyacinths was blooming.
When I finished my work, I came into the house, got my dad to put on his jacket and took him out to show him. We held hands and stood and gazed at that little plant and another one that’s pushing up and about to burst into bloom as well. When I looked at my dad, he had tears in his eyes, like I did. We both miss my mom, both know how thrilled she would have been to see that hyacinth. And this is a season of gaining so much and losing so much, both of us. There is nothing easy about moving a parent into one’s life. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.