This past Wednesday, I visited Avoca, an American Queen Anne-style home in Altavista, to take photos for the paper of area school children taking part in educational activities to learn more about history.
As I was walking the grounds, I photographed some of the plants in the well-kept flowerbeds.
One group of flowers I especially wanted to photograph was a bed of deep purple irises.
|A bed of irises at Avoca.|
The iris is my favorite flower. Whenever I see an iris or think about them, I think of a relative of mine and wonder if she is the reason it’s my favorite.
My father’s Aunt Ida, my great-aunt, lived right up the road from us when I was growing up in rural Virginia. She was a younger sister of my paternal grandmother.
My grandmother died when I was four years old, so I have few memories of her. But I have many good memories of time spent with Aunt Ida and her husband Uncle Othar.
I often stayed with them if my brother or someone in my family was in the hospital, and I always felt safe with them.
Aunt Ida treated me like I imagined a kindly and doting grandmother would. I realize now that she really was a surrogate grandmother to me.
Aunt Ida loved plants, and they flourished with her green thumb. But the flowers I loved the most were her irises. She had an entire garden of them at the end of her lawn.
Rows of irises in every imaginable color grew straight and healthy and produced the beautiful petals that looked too fragile to hold their lovely shape.
Sometimes in the evening, my mother and I visited Aunt Ida to see her flowers. The three of us walked up and down her rows of irises.
Each flower was beautiful. Each one, whether white, yellow, gold, purple or lavender, brought us to a stand still so that we could peer more closely and enjoy the delicacy of the bloom.
Then while my mother and Aunt Ida talked, I went back and looked at my very favorites. Purple was my favorite color, so I naturally gravitated towards those blooms.
The petals looked like velvet, and when I reached out and lightly touched them, they felt like velvet.
I stared at each bloom, trying to enjoy it as much as possible. Blooming time was precious.
Springtime flowers are still precious to me, as well as a comfort. So are memories of my Aunt Ida, who took care of me when I needed someone.
Did you have a relative who had a particularly positive influence on you as you were growing up? What kind of influence did he or she have on you?