Traveling Lily

by Stefani on 29-July-2009

My First Daylily

Months ago, I came home from a trip to Granny's with a scraggly, grassy bundle, wrapped in damp paper towels. Daylillies from her yard. 

They were first in my Momo's yard. Then in Granny's and I believe that there have been some transplanted daylilies in the yard of every single house that I lived in as a child, and we got around a good bit! 

We moved. My mother planted daylilies. We put down our roots wherever we roamed. 

I had yet to plant any as an adult though. Mainly, this is because I kill nearly every plant I touch and it seemed a sacrilege to risk the slaughter of my great grandmother's daylilies. 

Finally though, wanting so much to have a living piece of there, here, (and with my Granny's laughing promise, "Honey even you CAN NOT kill these things, not even if you want to!") I brought home my paper-wrapped bundle and eased them, along with my prayers, into new ground. Hopeful. 

Mostly, my scraggly bunch of daylillies has looked brown around the edges, pale, suicidal. 

So imagine my surprise when we pulled into the drive after our long ride home from Granny's house and were greeted with our very first audacious orange blossom. 

In that moment, when I had been feeling so sad to have left the country and my kin behind, it felt like one of the big, breath-stopping hugs that my Momo always gave me when we arrived at her house for a visit. I half expected to find tamales cooking in my kitchen and Johnny Cash on the radio; to see her wearing her apron and her smile, waiting for me. I sat right down and cried.

I think I know now why my mother always planted daylilies. 

Tara Thayer July 29, 2009 at 7:39 pm

oh my goodness, but you do make me tear up.
our histories are so different, I imagine, but sometimes, when I used to sit and rock my babies, i thought my grandma was in the corner of the room watching.
that sounds wierder than it is. hopefully you understand.

Amber July 29, 2009 at 7:49 pm

That is one beautiful flower. And a beautiful story, too. I feel a real connection with my own grandmother through my garden, too.

jenny July 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm

What a coincidence! I was about to post about my own tiger lily plants, that I have from my grandmother. I have descendants of plants that my grandmother planted over 75 years ago! They were her favorites and we buried some flowers with her in the coffin. Then when her home was sold, my mom and aunt dug up a bunch and brought them to their own homes, and then last year, I got my own set from my aunt. They remind me of the women in my family every time I see their blooms.

Cassandra July 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Yessssssss. Flowers to remember by. I have a peony in my yard that is a direct descendent of a peony from my great grandmother’s yard. It has been many years with our family and hopefully many more to come. I very much understand the importance of such a thing.

Mama Urchin July 30, 2009 at 3:43 am

Oh Stef, I know just how you feel. We have daylilies too that came from the farm where my great-grandfather lived and have been planted at every house I’ve ever lived in. We also have holly trees that are babies of an enormous holly tree at my grandparent’s house. Actually, our holly is a grandbaby of that one by way of a holly at my childhood home. We’ve got daffodils and lily of the valley too from my grandparents home.

Amy July 30, 2009 at 4:54 am

It’s the little things that make a house a home.

Elissa July 30, 2009 at 5:02 am

you make make up that kind of magic.

Louise July 30, 2009 at 5:16 am

It’s so nice to hear how we all do this! We have lilies from my natal home (which was my grandparents’) and lenten roses from my mother and the home where I grew up. I think of where (and whom) they came from each time I see them bloom, too! Great post.

Fiona July 30, 2009 at 5:35 am

This is a beautiful story. Sweetpea are our family flower 🙂

Sara July 30, 2009 at 5:56 am

My grandparents didn’t have day lilies, but my parents and my husband do. My hubby has 57 varieties and my parents have hundreds. When they can be divided, we share! Hopefully one day when my parents are gone my children will have good memories when they see the blossom of a certain flower.

And you CAN’T kill them!

patricia July 30, 2009 at 6:48 am

It surely wasn’t a coincidence that it bloomed then, do you think? I love the analogy of the flower being like one of Momo’s hugs. I’m sorry you didn’t get those tamales and the apron and Johnny Cash too, but that sure was some gorgeous writing!

Rebecca July 30, 2009 at 7:26 am

for me it is iris… I understand completely!

heather jane July 30, 2009 at 8:35 am

They’re hard to kill alright! And so pretty, too. Can’t beat that in itself, but when they make you feel like home? That’s sayin’ something. This is how tomatoes are for me.

Laurie July 30, 2009 at 8:40 am

It’s not the same long history, but…I have some day lilies planted in a barrel in my backyard. I bought them for my mom to put in a planter at her apartment some years ago, and when she moved she gave them to me to replant. When they began to bloom, I’d send her a picture of them. She has Alzheimers now, so she might not remember the flowers, but I remember for both of us. Thanks for putting this into words!

DebbieR July 30, 2009 at 8:43 am

That is so sad and wonderful at the same time! Congratulations on your daylily and the beautiful remembrance that comes with it.
Your story really took me back to my grandparents here in Houston and also mys grandparents in Germany.
Thank you…I will join you in a little cry!

Lia July 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

I got married in my grandmother’s backyard, under her jasmine. Every time I see jasmine I think of her, her yard, and our wedding. I hadn’t thought about taking some of it, but now I will for sure. Thanks so much for the idea!

Melissa July 30, 2009 at 2:06 pm

You have such wonderful gifts of being able to see the simple things in life with such clarity and sharing them in an amazingly clear and beautiful way – both in words and pictures!

tara July 30, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Oh goodness, i just lost my Johnny Cash loving grandmother and this post teared me up. I’m so glad that you have a bit of your momo, blooming beautifully in the yard. what a gift!

Relyn July 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm

You nearly make me want to sit right down and cry myself from your sweet words. Instead, though, you make me want to tell a joke. My Mamaw was a joke teller. I never once – in my whole life talked to her that she didn’t have a new joke for me. No daylilies or cooking for her. For Willie Fay, it was jokes. I think I’d better start collecting some jokes to share in my sweet Mamaw’s memory.

Regina July 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Amazing how those roots connect us to our roots. I have a few indoors and a few outdoors – passed from home to home, house to house, cutting by cutting. I feel the privilege of nurturing them on for the next generation as well. Wonderful stuff!

June July 31, 2009 at 8:10 am

I was just telling my daughters how my grandmother’s irises bloomed in my garden for the first time. It was the spring we brought our daughters home from China. And we were out taking a walk, and there were three blooming irises (after four years of NO blooms), and I started shaking and crying and feeling so tied to this grandmother who would have loved knowing my babies. I cried telling my girls about it. And I cried reading your post about daylilies. Roots.

Jonah Lisa July 31, 2009 at 8:44 am

I’m just curious Stefani, and you don’t have to answer on the blog or even at all if it feels too personal, but WHEREABOUTS in East Texas is your family from?

Though mainly from Ft. Worth and Waco, my mom’s family spent a good chunk of her childhood in Longview. Some of my Dad’s people are from Cleburne (Goat Neck). And part of my husbands family are still in Corsicana. We also have some family get-togethers at Caddo Lake.

Your Momo reminds me alot of my Meme. Such a huge warm influence.

Vintage Chica July 31, 2009 at 9:24 am

Oh girl…Im crying right along with you right now. I feel the same way when I see vitex blooming. I always think of my grandmother. Hugs and sweet thoughts for you today.


Melinda July 31, 2009 at 10:52 am

That was a perfect write up….sniffle…thanks..

marjorie August 3, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Awww. beautiful post.

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