Growing Strawberries Again
The bittersweet memories of summer fruits...and motherhood.
BY: Deborah Caldwell
The family celebrations became a burden. We still had strawberry pie for my birthday, but we bought it from a local bakery. The years went on, and my mother became angry, abusive and cruel. She taunted me and my sister and brother, told us we were “bad kids,” and refused to pay attention to our activities and accomplishments. She would fly into a rage and storm out of the house, or throw our clothes out the front door. She threatened my father with a knife. She told us repeatedly she hated us, was afraid of us, and hated herself.
By the time I was a teenager, my mother would often check herself into a hospital sometime after Mother’s Day to weather the rest of the spring. Later, when I was a young adult, her suicide attempts would frequently happen in the spring.
Each year, I dreaded Mother’s Day. Most years she would either refuse gifts or, if she opened them, she would give them back in a huff. Sometimes she would retreat to her bedroom in anger or despair. There were no Mother’s Day cards at the store to describe adequately the disappointment, betrayal, and grief I felt about the loss of the mother I had once known.
Around that time, the strawberry patch died. My mother told me strawberry plants only bear fruit for a certain number of years, and so they must be replenished. But my mother stopped planting new, young strawberries. Eventually, the plants stopped bearing fruit.
We three children grew up, went away to college and got married. My mother’s depression deepened. There were no more strawberry pies.