Breathing in………Mimosa…….yes……..the sweet fragrance of a Mimosa tree in bloom…….I would recognize it anywhere………and when I do………a kaleidoscope of images and memories come flooding back to me. Images of a house in need of repair, a dilapidated barn, and yes……. a huge Mimosa tree in the front yard. There were tiny fragile chicks running all around, too fast for me to catch, but it didn’t matter, because what waited inside was one of the highlights of my year, yes…..my grandfather Hobert Augustus Ray.
They say Mimosa is a weed, but for me, when it blooms in early Summer, and I am fortunate enough to pass one, it’s like a room I walk into and relive those childhood memories of visits with “Granddaddy”. I remember his genuine sweet smile that never failed to greet us at the door, his I-love-you-all -the-way-to-your-bones hugs and his bristly unshaven face giving me tickly kisses on my neck. He must have gotten kissing lessons from his mule! I remember his crippled bent body doing the best it could to get around…and his hands. Yes, I remember those gnarled hands.
His hands and his jaws could dance together over a plate of fried fish and wipe those fish bones clean (and I mean clean!) in no time flat. He loved fish! And I learned to love them as much as he did, but with a little more grace =).
The room my sister and I slept in was ice cold in the winter. Mama didn’t have to worry about us getting out of bed because we were seriously strapped to the bed by very heavy quilts filled with pure cotton batting. Those things were so heavy! But they kept us warm once the friction from our shivering bodies warmed it up! Before we headed off to bed, Granddaddy would lead us in family devotions with a reading from the Bible and singing hymns to the accompaniment of his one man band harmonica. Oh, what I would give to hear it again! He played it well. Then, drifting off to sleep, I could see in the dim moonlight a form with sharp but gracefully beautiful features hanging framed on the wall, my grandmother I never knew, “Minnie”.
Granddaddy could pray. His faith was strong and my young heart and mind new it. And it changed me. I could hear his faith in his voice when he prayed and I could see it in his face when he smiled and interacted with people; I never heard him say a cross word about anyone. I knew my granddaddy genuinely loved Jesus. Perhaps, in part, that’s why I love Him so much myself.
He was a sweet man. True, all the way to the core of his being. I will never forget him.
So the Mimosa tree, for me, is a giving tree. It gives me memories; memories are important and sometimes even life changing. They remind me where I’ve come from and demand that I be honest about who I am.
Not all memories are pleasant, but the ones that are, it’s nice when they are attached to something that stimulates my senses so that from time to time I remember to revisit people, places, events that helped shape me into the person I am today.
What would you like for your children to remember in twenty, thirty, forty, years? Maybe your great Aunt May has a strength of character you would like for them to remember. Visit her with your children as often as possible and help them connect one of their senses to the experience every time they visit: a special ice cream treat, a flowering bush growing in her yard, or a song you could sing while you are there. Or maybe you would like for them to remember having family devotions together each night. Burn a candle with a unique fragrance or wrap up in a special blanket or plug in a string of Christmas lights while you pray.
Get creative and start tapping into the potent influence of your child’s senses. That old song may trigger a memory one day when they need it most.
So now….. I make a point to take walks in the Summer down the street from us where a Mimosa grows. I rarely pass by it without picking one of its blooms and breathing in its sweetness all the way home…
…remembering….. and it changes me.
“I love you Granddaddy! Rest in peace, dear sweet man, knowing you made a difference in at least one little girl while you labored here.”