Lim: I know love

Melanie T. Lim
·3 min read

I see them now. But I guess they’ve always been there. Ordinary. Commonplace. Unremarkable. They did not merit my attention.

Six months after my mother passed, I suddenly saw them everywhere — in places I had been to, countless times. Yet, somehow, they escaped my attention — till my mother passed and I began to remember everything she had told me about them.

They thrive under the sun and are extremely drought-resistant. They can be forgotten for many moons but for so long as they are under the hot sun, they will reward you with a garden of blooms the next time they merit your glance.

My mother was a “plantita” long before the term was coined. And she would tell me, often enough, that bougainvilleas are wonderful blooms to grow because they are extremely low-maintenance.

Once the roots are established, they don’t need much watering. They thrive with very little attention. And when grown against the fence, their thorns give your home additional protection.

I remembered my mother’s words when I needed to plant some blooms at her grave site. Now, every time I see the explosion of colors — I smile. I like to think that Mama must be smiling too because we managed to grow them in different colors — white, pink, orange and even in variegated forms.

My mother spoke of bougainvilleas often but ironically, she did not grow a lot of them. I like to think that maybe she wanted me to grow them after she had passed — to always remind me of her. And they do.

Extremely low maintenance, my mother survived on the morsels of attention her busy children gave her. Like bougainvilleas that thrive on occasional good, deep watering, my mother bloomed from the occasional deep, abiding love we showed her.

Like bougainvilleas, my mother was everywhere. So, I never paid attention. She was always there. All the time. Without fail. So, I took her for granted. And the tragedy of her ubiquitous love was that it fell into oblivion.

Why do we look for love that eludes us yet ignore the one that is present, constant and sits right next to us each day at the dinner table?

You never really realize how much you are loved till the one who loves you leaves you forever. If remorse and regret could give me the gift of time travel — I would go back in time and take the blinders off my eyes.

You were always with me, Ma. But I never paid attention. When you were here, I never listened to you. But now that you are gone, I strain to hear your voice and remember all your words of wisdom in my most difficult moments.

Ordinary. Commonplace. Unremarkable. I was a fool — until I lost you forever. Some people dream of going to the moon or Mars. I dream of going back in time to love you one more time. Thank you, Ma. Because of you, I know love.

Now, I see bougainvilleas everywhere.