Angel Fern

Angel Fern

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Angel Fern

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.

Nelson Henderson

It was that time again, Mother’s Day, a magical day of surprises, loving tributes, and emotional hazards.

In the past, we had traveled all over the state, sitting three hours in traffic to meet “halfway,” accommodating age, health, no transportation, exams, soccer games, infants, and infantile adults. This year I decided to stay home and invite everyone for a cookout. Hubby offered to do the cooking, and I would prepare a few things.

There would be fourteen of us: one vegetarian, one on the Atkins diet, another on the South Beach diet, and one who ate nothing but cheeseburgers. Also to be considered were two attendees who had high cholesterol, two with high blood pressure, one with gout, one who was lactose intolerant, and one who had a seafood allergy. But I knew from years of experience that once our guests hit that food table, diet amnesia would set in, and everything would disappear in record time. So I prepared a black bean salsa with nachos, a crabmeat dip with seaweed crackers, a cheese/pepperoni/red grape platter, hot stuffed mushroom canapés, a sushi platter, assorted nuts, extra lean burgers, a dozen natural casing hot dogs, soy burgers and bratwurst, six pounds of extra large shrimp, two pounds of homemade coleslaw, three pounds of homemade potato salad, a crock of homemade baked beans, a large salad, strawberry shortcake with buttery biscuits and real whipped cream for dessert, and plenty of soft drinks, iced tea, and coffee, regular and decaf. I was ready for Mother’s Day!

Needless to say, by then I was in a cranky mood as I set the table with cute little fishy plates and cute little fishy cups and cute little fishy napkins representing my Cape Cod lifestyle. Mothers are supposed to have the day off. Be pampered. Be appreciated, I muttered to myself.

Full into my “this-is-the-last-time” rant, I thought I heard a knock on the front door. It was so soft that I could barely hear it. Looking out of the kitchen window, I couldn’t see any car, but decided to check the front door anyway. A tiny woman about eighty years old, beautifully dressed, stood on the front step. “This used to be my house,” she said softly, and although we had never met the previous owner, I did recognize her name. I asked her if she would like to come in, and she was delighted.

I told her how much we loved the house, and as we walked from room to room together, she shared my excitement as I pointed out some of our recent updating projects. We had bought the house furnished, and when we came to her antique coffee table, her beautiful tall bookcases, and the many charming bedroom dressers that I had kept, she looked at me fondly and began to reminisce.

It had been their summerhouse for many years, her husband and six children. She remembered them all sitting on the living room floor around that coffee table eat- ing their evening suppers. She recalled lovingly polishing each antique piece. And at the tiny bathroom, she laughingly recalled sharing it with her five daughters, “like a dormitory.”

When we came to the kitchen and she saw her big antique table set and waiting, there was a longing in her voice as she asked about my family. She declined my offer to join us, and after thanking me with a big hug, she left.

A half-hour later there was that same soft knock at my door. There she stood holding a lovely plant, an Angel Fern. She thanked me again and again for my kindness, and said I had made her day. We hugged and wished each other a Happy Mother’s Day, and then she was gone.

I stood and looked at my lovely Angel Fern, and then at my table set for family, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

Avis Drucker

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