My grandmother first introduced me to Alice. She didn’t call her Alice at the time, but the story she shared left no doubt in my mind, this beautiful flower did in fact have a name.
And it was Alice.
Alice was the name of my great grandmother. A strong, hard working woman, raising two daughters alongside her husband on a farm in Saskatchewan during the great depression.
Born in England, she immigrated to Canada to start a new life in a new country; this was not a woman to shy away from adventure.
And although I’m sure ‘adventure’ was not the word that came to mind while trying to survive in the midst of the dust bowl, adventure is how I see it.
Unfortunately, I never did meet my great grandmother Alice. She passed away years before I came along. My grandmother would talk about her from time to time but it wasn’t until she introduced me to the peony plant growing in the garden when I understood the path grief takes us on.
This flower has a story to tell.
It had spent time with my great grandmother. This was the plant that grew beside her grave for many, many years. Decades spent in the solitude of the cemetery.
The day came when my grandmother, less able to travel to her mother’s resting place, decided to dig up that peony to bring back on the long drive home.
I’m not sure what inspired my grandmother to do that. I never thought to ask the question. But if I had to guess, knowing the peony as I do now, I would say the answer was in a whisper.
And here she sits.
This is the name I hear every time I pass her. Every time I pause to admire her beautiful flowers. Alice.
She is a strong, resilient, graceful plant. Much like my great grandmother herself.
She has given many gifts sitting in the garden.
I am connected to an ancestor I have never met in this life, but somehow I know her.
I hear her name.
I recall her stories.
I feel her strength, her resiliency, and her grace.
Every time I pass her, every time I pause to admire her beautiful flowers, I know her.
In these moments of solitude there exists a world, an unassuming quiet realm, pulsating life all around me.
And when I pause just enough to silence the noise, whispers can be heard, calling to the connectedness that surpass all time and logic.
Where a peony plant can carry a connection to a loved one who walked before me.
A beautiful gift.
The gift of whispers.