The Remembrance of Lilacs
The family had just moved to Rhode Island, and the young woman was feeling a little melancholy on that Sunday in May. After all, it was Mother's Day -- and 800 miles separated her from her parents in Ohio.
She had called her mother that morning to wish her a happy Mother's Day, and her mother had mentioned how colorful the yard was now that spring had arrived. As they talked, the younger woman could almost smell the tantalizing aroma of purple lilacs hanging on the big bush outside her parents'back door.
Later, when she mentioned to her husband how she missed those lilacs, he popped up from his chair. "I know where we can find you all you want, "he said. "Get the kids and c'mon. "
So off they went, driving the country roads of northern Rhode Island on the kind of day only mid－May can produce：sparkling sunshine, unclouded azure skies and vibrant newness of the green growing all around. They went past small villages and burgeoning housing developments, past abandoned apple orchards, back to where trees and brush have devoured old homesteads.
Where they stopped, dense thickets of cedars and ju nipers and birch crowded the roadway on both sides. There wasn't a lilac bush in sight.
"Come with me , "the man said. "Over that hill is an old cellar hole, from somebody's farm of years ago, and there are lilacs all round it. The man who owns this land said I could poke around here anytime. I'm sure he won't mind if we pick a few lilacs. "
Before they got halfway up the hill, the fragrance of the lilacs drifted down to them, and the kids started running. Soon, the mother began running, too, until she reached the top.
There, far from view of passing motorists and hidden from encroaching civilization, were the towering lilacs bushes, so laden with the huge, cone-shaped flower clusters that they almost bent double. With a smile, the young woman rushed up to the nearest bush and buried her face in the flowers, drinking in the fragrance and the memories it recalled.
While the man examined the cellar hole and tried to explain to the children what the house must have looked like, the woman drifted among the lilacs. Carefully, she chose a sprig here, another one there, and clipped them with her husband's pocket knife. She was in no hurry, relishing each blossom as a rare and delicate treasure.
Finally, though, they returned to their car for the trip home. While the kids chattered and the man drove, the woman sat smiling, surrounded by her flowers, a faraway look in her eyes.
When they were within three miles of home, she suddenly shouted to her husband, "Stop the car. Stop right here!"
The man slammed on the brakes. Before he could ask her why she wanted to stop, the woman was out of the car and hurrying up a nearby grassy slope with the lilacs still in her arms. At the top of the hill was a nursing home and, because it was such a beautiful spring day, the patients were outdoors strolling with relatives or sitting on the porch.
The young woman went to the end of the porch, where an elderly patient was sitting in her wheelchair, alone, head bowed, her back to most of the others. Across the porch railing went the flowers, in to the lap of the old woman. She lifted her head, and smiled. For a few moments, the two women chatted, both aglow with happiness, and then the young woman turned and ran back to her family. As the car pulled away, the woman in the wheelchair waved, and clutched the lilacs.
"Mom, "the kids asked, "who was that？Why did you give her our flowers？Is she somebody's mother？"The mother said she didn't know the old woman. But it was Mother's Day, and she seemed so alone, and who wouldn't be cheered by flowers？"Besides, "she added, "I have all of you, and I still have my mother, even if she is far away. That woman needed those flowers more than I did. "
This satisfied the kids, but not the husband. The next day he purchased half a dozen young lilacs bushes and planted them around their yard, and several times since then he has added more.
I was that man. The young mother was, and is, my wife. Now, every May, our own yard is redolent with lilacs. Every Mother's Day our kids gather purple bouquets. And every year I remember that smile on a lonely old woman's face, and the kindness that put the smile there.
一家人刚移居罗德岛。５月的那个星期天, 年轻女人感到有点儿忧伤。毕竟, 这一天是母亲节─而她却与俄亥俄州的父母亲遥距800英里。
她那天早上给母亲打去电话, 祝母亲节日愉快。随后, 她的母亲向她提起, 因为春天已经来临, 所以院子里的色彩是多么绚丽。在她们通话的当儿, 年轻女人几乎可以闻到悬垂在父母亲后门外大灌木丛上的紫丁香醉人的芬芳。
后来, 她向丈夫说起她是如何怀念那些紫丁香时, 他突然从椅子上跃起。"我知道在哪儿能找到你想要的东西, "他说, "带上孩子, 走吧。"
于是, 他们就出发了, 驱车行驶在罗德岛北部的乡村小路上, 那种天气只有５月中旬才会有：闪亮的阳光、蔚蓝色的晴空以及生机勃勃、随处可见的绿意。他们穿过一座座小村庄和一座座拔地而起的房屋, 穿过废弃的苹果园, 来到了树林和灌木丛掩映的老农场。
随我来, "那个男人说, "翻过那座小山, 有个老地窖, 几年前是一个人的农场, 四周长满了紫丁香。这块地的主人说我可以随时到这儿来闲逛。我相信, 要是我们采几束紫丁香, 他不会介意。"
还没等他们到达半山腰, 紫丁香的芬芳已经向他们飘了过来。于是, 孩子们开始奔跑。不久, 那位母亲也开始跑起来, 直至到达山顶。
那里, 远离了过往司机的视野, 避开了纷扰的文明世界, 高耸的丁香花丛开满了硕大的圆锥形的串串花束, 几乎把花茎压成了两折。那个年轻女人微笑着冲到最近的一处花丛, 把脸埋在鲜花中, 啜饮着芳香, 陶醉在重新唤起的记忆中。
在那个男人察看地窖试图向孩子们解释这座房子必定是什么样子的当儿, 那个女人不由自主地走进了紫丁香花丛。她小心翼翼地从这儿摘一枝, 那儿挑一束, 然后用丈夫的袖珍小刀将它们剪下来。她不慌不忙, 像欣赏稀有珍宝似地欣赏着每一朵花。
然而, 他们终于还是返回了汽车, 走上了回家的路。孩子们叽叽喳喳说个不停, 那个男人驾着车, 那个女人坐在那儿面带微笑, 她周围放满了鲜花, 眼睛里充满着向往。
当他们离家不足３英里时, 她突然向丈夫大声喊道："停车, 就在这里停车！"
那个男人嘎地刹住车。还没等他问为什么, 女人就已经下了车, 匆匆走向附近的草坡, 怀里仍抱着紫丁香。山顶上是一家疗养院, 因为这是一个美丽的春日, 所以病人正在室外和亲友溜达或坐在门廊上。
那个年轻女人走到门廊的尽头, 只见那里有一个上了年纪的病人正坐在轮椅里, 独自一人, 低着头, 背对着其他人。年轻女人越过门廊栏杆, 将鲜花放在了老太太的膝间。老太太抬起头, 露出了笑脸。两个女人聊了一会儿, 都兴高采烈。随后, 那个年轻女人转身跑回到家人的身边。当汽车开动时, 坐在轮椅里的那个女人挥动着手, 手里紧紧地握着那束紫丁香花。
"妈妈, "孩子们问, "那人是谁呀？你为什么把我们的花送给她？她是谁的母亲呀？"他们的母亲说, 她不认识那个老太太, 但今天是母亲节, 她看起来是那么孤独, 而鲜花会给任何人带来好心情。"再说, "她补充道, "我拥有你们, 而且我还有自己的母亲, 即使她离我很远。那个女人比我更需要那些鲜花。"
孩子们得到了满意的答案, 但她的丈夫却没有。第二天, 他买了半打紫丁香幼苗, 栽到了院子四周；而且从那以后, 每隔一段时间, 他就会增加一些。
我就是那个男人, 那个年轻母亲是我妻子。如今, 每年５月, 我们自家的院子都会散发出浓烈的紫丁香的芬芳。每逢母亲节, 我们的孩子都要采撷紫丁香花束。而且每年我都会记起一位孤独的老太太脸上露出的笑容, 以及笑容里呈现出的那种慈祥。