Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Purple Lilac

Since I was a young boy, I can remember the intoxicating smell of lilacs in my grandparents’ back yard. Grandpa would cultivate the plants in the sandy soil of the Sunset District of San Francisco and Grandma would always say that lilacs were her favorite flowers. Her birthday was April 5th and in the city, that was about the time that the things would be blooming, a fortunate coincidence.

Her parents sent her and her sister, as teenagers from a small town in Russia, to America on a ship, and she never saw her folks again. The sisters married brothers and stayed in the same neighborhood for the rest of their lives.

While living in the Bay Area, I used to take flowers in general for granted because they were a year round fixture of the landscape. Since moving to Idaho, I have managed to keep a plant or two going.

My purple lilac is just blooming now, and it is super fragrant. It is such a welcoming scent, it flashes me back to my childhood memories: big family meals with ethnic specialties like sweet and sour cabbage, walking together to the grocery store where she had made friends with all the employees, trading in coupons from the paper; she must have gone to the the Safeway 3 times a week.

Grandma Betty managed to make a personal bond with each of my brothers. She snuck me my first cup of coffee and would make my favorite dishes when it was my turn to spend the weekend. I can see her cooking apron, and hear her yelling, “BEN!” down the stairs to Grandpa and I when it was time to wash up for a meal. Most of all, I get the pleasure of remembering that beautiful, strong, loving, independent woman in the annual blooming and scent of a flower.