Friday, March 29, 2019

Slice of Life 2019 29 of 31: A lily in the house

Throughout the month of March, I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge. I am happy to co-host this event with the team at Two Writing Teachers. Everyone is welcome!

I walk into the house and instantly notice the smell of lily. I haven't smelled it in the house for a long time. Clare is allergic which is one reason to stop buying them. She's away now.  Garth has a tendency to brush up against them, especially when he's wearing a white shirt. Another reason not to buy them. This lily is wisely positioned away from the line of walking traffic. Most of all, they were my dad's thing which may be the true reason I haven't brought myself to buy lilies. 

"Where'd the lily come from?" I ask my mom.
"Bruce brought them to me," she says. Bruce is her financial planner. He does stuff like that. "He had to drop something else off, and he said he was at the garden center buying lilies for his wife, and he thought he'd buy some for me too. Wasn't that nice?"

It was. And it also brought floodgates of memories. For Dad, springtime meant trips to the farmer's market before the sun came up, especially when the stands were full of hyacinths, daffodils, and lilies. If he could, he'd talk one of us into going with him. Then the trip would include a stop for coffee and a visit to the donut stand. Even for someone like me who doesn't like donuts, warm ones are tough to resist. Dad liked the coffee cake better than the donuts-- the one with the thick streusel on the top. Those coffee cakes... he could also buy them at the local bakery, and when he was dieting he'd allocate himself a quarter a day. He savored his perfect squares of cake and then found an excuse to make a return visit to the bakery. If anyone wanted a square, he'd share, but mostly we didn't. They were too sweet for everyone except Dad.

I'm working hard at keeping my focus because I've already strayed from the moonlit visits to the farmers' markets and into some of my father's habits. I want to keep writing and remembering him... his running, wine-making, guitar learning, fly-fishing, book writing, bread baking, German speaking, scotch drinking-- and his commitment to being a great doctor. 

I'll rein myself in, and I'll return to the lilies. At this time of year, he'd show up at our homes with pots of fragrant lilies. If we weren't home, we knew he'd been there. 

I wish he'd been here. 

Happy Slicing, 


  1. This is beautiful. I feel like I'm getting to know your dad. He sounds, in some ways, like my own dad.

  2. This is powerful. I like the way you're struggling for control of the wave. Smells certainly are a powerful memory agent. I like how the floodgate paragraph is full and nearly overflowing, and the others a more hemmed in.
    On another note, who doesn't like donuts?

  3. Beautiful piece today, Melanie. Your voice is so engaging, and the prose you craft reads so easily. The way you weave in memories of your dad here, flashing back from the lilies and returning not the same as you were... so well done.

  4. Sensory memories are so powerful. You've described such a connection between your father and lilies; makes me wonder if your mother sensed the same. (On a side note--I've learned recently that you can cut off the stamens to avoid pollen fallout!)

  5. Your lily slice brought back sensory memories of my mother, Melanie. It's the small things about spring that we forget in our everyday lives but today you made the lily plant the main focus for a short narrative. Thank you for this.

  6. The ending was perfect. I love the snippet of mornings at the farmers market and the perfect square piece of cake. My sister-in-law had them in the bridesmaids bouquets -- it must we a Clare thing because I sneezed the entire day! Thank you for sharing your heart with us. He is there ... I believe in signs!

  7. You don't like donuts?? What??

    I loved reading about how the smell of the lily brought back memories of your dad! He sounds like he was a great guy!

  8. Such a beautiful tribute. How lovely that you have all of these warm memories, so sad that you have to rely on them.

  9. The way that the smell of the lilies leads you to memory after memory - wonderful and poignant. Funny how sensory memories can be so strong, even after many years. Thanks for sharing a little piece of your father with us today.