THE sight of dandelions will always bring me to memories of my children’s childhood. I vividly remember spending many mornings at the garden of Insular Life Building, in F. Yandoc Street, where the McDonald’s Insular restaurant now stands.
In my mind, I secretly thought of that place as our private little garden. We lived in a four-floor apartment building (and we still do now) across that garden. Many wishes were made in that garden; as my children, especially the two older ones, blew dandelion puffs into the air.
Nowadays, I don’t see as many dandelions as I used to. Maybe this shows, how I have walked less into gardens and fields of greens. But, dandelions will always have a special place in my heart.
I remember introducing Conrad, my first grandson to a dandelion when he was about two years old. What fun we had during that day by the mini golf area in Camp John Hay. Am thankful that we had pictures and videos of him blowing the dandelion puffs into the air. That has not taken place again. Maybe I ought to go find a dandelion and make a wish.
In a little over a year I will be a dual citizen. Yes, I am eager to get my senior discount card. But other than that one very positive side to ageing, getting old doesn’t seem to be so appealing.
I ponder on dandelions and my life. I think of the dandelion flower in its fullness in bloom; with its spiked yellow petals opening up and facing the sun in the mornings and going to sleep at noon. I remember Jennifer picking these small yellow flowers and giving them as gift for mommy or daddy. What a simple act of innocence providing joy and the promise of more joy.
Unknown to her, these little flowers will soon be pollinated by bees, and each floret in a small flower will produce a seed that will push up these florets and develop a feathery filament called a pappus, bursting like puffballs. This is what we more commonly know as the dandelion itself.
Then the wind, (if the playful children don't get to them first,} blows the seeds away and there’s nothing left but a bare stem.
David Roper in his book, “Teach us to Number our Days,” wrote that, “Aging is somewhat like that. Time blows on us, and we lose bits and pieces of ourselves until there’s nothing left to lose.” What a sad imagery of life and death.
I see my nearly 88-year-old mother, with the little and thinning grey hair left on her tiny, frail head; her weak and trembling hands and legs; her skin wrinkled and with lesions in many parts of her aching body; most of her teeth have fallen out, and her hearing has started to fail. Worst of all, stricken with Alzheimer’s disease, her mind has almost completely left her. She’s helpless and vulnerable in this stage.
But, Roper is right when he wrote; “a dandelion comes to fruition by surrendering itself. It dies that it might bear much fruit, though it has no idea when or where its many seeds will fall.”
I find myself now thinking, Have I offered and surrendered myself? How? How do I die to myself that I might bear much fruit? Am I bearing fruit at all? How do I do this when it is so natural to think of myself first before anything else?
Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own life.... He cannot be my disciple.” Roper wrote, “To hate ourselves is not to despise ourselves, but to love and give in such measure that it looks as though we’re taking no thought for ourselves. Jesus teaches us to give up our lives – forget about them, as He himself has shown us by His death on the cross, for our sake.”
In her lifetime, before Alzheimer’s, my mother has done a lot of dying to herself. She has given of herself in love, living a life of self-sacrifice and suffering. Together with my late father, they raised nine children and took care of many grandchildren. She has devoted her life fully to her family and to the works of God, through the Catholic Church that she loved and served.
I see her now as David Roper describes “a full-grown dandelion seed globe, which has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has reached its crowning stage of dying.” She is now ready to be offered.
My Dearest Brothers, Sisters and Family members,
I pray that the many seeds that have been blown from our mother’s self-giving life have fallen on rich soil in our lives.
May the dandelions that we are now be like her, and at the most important time in our life, be ready to be offered. May we, like beautiful dandelions, “hold ourselves no longer for our own keeping, but only as something to be given away.”
So help us God.