A Case of the Human Condition: The Trouble With Daffodils — and My Writing

flower-daffodil-oakland-californiaBy Barbara Falconer Newhall

I don’t like daffodils. I feel about daffodils the way I feel about some of my writing – too damned cheerful. Too nicey-nice. Too tidy. Too certain that in the end everything’s going to come out just fine, that all shall be well.

I prefer irises. I especially like the bearded irises that are volunteering up and down the hills of our neighborhood right now.  Their swooping, swooning petals are downright lascivious. So are the fuzzy, yellow-brown genitalia cascading from their centers. These are not nice flowers.

Daffodils, by comparison, are starchy, unequivocal. They are trumpets of optimism playing to the sun. Last month, there were daffodils blooming all over the neighborhood, as if there had not just been a winter. And if by chance there had been a winter, as if there would never be another.

The trouble with daffodils is they have no subtext. They are all cheer and sparkle and optimism. They are avatars of perky. They get on my nerves, no doubt, because of that daffodil place in my psyche, which from time to time locates itself in my writing.

In my daffodil brain, everything happens for the good. Problems can be solved. Human beings are redeemable. God is in God’s sweet heaven. And my 92-year-old mother, who’s been lying in a hospital bed with a broken hip for the past five weeks, is not going to die. Ever. In just a few weeks, my mother and I will head over to Nordstrom again for lunch. As usual, she’ll order the chicken salad with berries. I’ll get the one with artichokes. After lunch we’ll hijack Nordstrom’s loaner wheelchair and scoot over to Macy’s where things are more affordable. She’ll sit in the wheelchair with her purse in her lap, credit card at the ready, and I’ll roll her around the petites department. She’ll ask me to back up to take a second look at the crisp brown and white linen jacket. She’ll offer to buy it for me, I’ll decline.

My mother will come through this hip thing just fine. She always has. She always will.

My daffodil brain does not write about my mother’s spine, which is as curved and uncertain as question mark. It averts its eyes from the sun-damaged splotches darkening and growing across her cheeks. It makes excuses for the strings of nonsensical sentences coming from her mouth. (It’s the painkillers talking.) My daffodil brain is too polite to type words like constipation, commode, diaper, droopy buttocks, crepey skin, thinning hair, boney knuckles.

Photos c 2010 B.F. Newhall

Photos c 2010 B.F. Newhall

No, my mother’s days are not numbered and, therefore, neither are mine. My mother will not spend her last days in pain and uncertainty, wondering how God, or death for that matter, could possibly be real. And neither will I.

© 2010 Barbara Falconer Newhall

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2 Comments

  1. Diane (Erwin)
    Posted April 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Great piece! My Mom is 89 and currently taking care of my brother who has a very serious case of emphysema. Drives him to the dr. appts., etc. She is virtually industructable (in my eyes), and she is never going to go through the indignities that await most other older people. Thanks for that article. I enjoyed it very much.

    • admin
      Posted April 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Diane. It’s great that we get to have our moms for so many years.

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© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and www.GodsBigBlog.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and www.GodBigBlog.com with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework