I don’t remember there being so many holly hocks in Maadi last spring. Every day, everywhere we walk, there are tall holly hocks in bloom. Pink. Purple. White. Each blossom climbing towards the sun. There is one place in particular where the holly hocks are surrounded by a bed of brown-eyed susans. Sebastian and I walk by it on our way to the bakery and each time I move a little slower and smile. For the memories.
When I was a little girl I used to have sleep overs at my Grandma and Grandpa’s. I have lots of little moments that I remember from this time. The one I revisit when I walk by the holly hocks is when my Grandma taught me how to make ‘holly hock dolls’. We were out in her back garden, the sun was bright. She was telling me a story about when she was a little girl. She took the bright flower, fully bloomed and plucked it off the vine. She then took one of the buds, still closed up in a little ball, and plucked it off the top of the vine. She then showed me how she used to make ‘holly hock dolls’ when she was a small girl. We got a tooth pick and turned the blooming flower upside down, creating a skirt with the petals. She then poked the holly hock through with the tooth pick and attached the bud for the doll’s head. We now had a dancing doll! I make those little dolls in my mind each time I walk by the holly hocks in bloom. I miss my grandma. So much. I think of the lost opportunity to speak to her on Christmas morning because of the time difference of being in Australia. If I could have been anywhere else, it would have been in Michigan, celebrating my grandma’s last Christmas with the rest of my family. Instead I look at the pictures of a memory I was not a part of on my cousin’s facebook wall. You can’t be everywhere all at once.
And the brown-eyed susans? Those are for my brother Josh. When he was little, he picked a big bouquet of them for my mom. Growing up in the country, we had many patches of wild flowers around our property. My mom always encouraged us to smell the flowers but not to pick them so that we would enjoy them the following year. She said if we picked them, they wouldn’t grow back. Josh picked them anyways because he wanted to give his mom beautiful flowers to say ‘I love you’. There’s been more than once we’ve planted brown-eyed susans in remembrance of Josh and his super big heart. I miss my brother too.
It seems fitting that these flowers would sit in the Cairo breeze together, whispering my grandma and brother’s hellos from heaven.