There was a time when I couldn’t cross a wee narrow path with my matka in under twenty minutes. We grew up in a wild dandelion land and she couldn’t go about without spying one, and muttering, and running over to it, and smiling away. Her smile was crazy and secret and mischievous and unlike any other smile in the world.
“What is it matka, what is it”, I would beg, tugging at her hand. My rosy capped mind could find nothing in the ugly, misshapen object to alight such a twinkle in her eye. Perhaps there is much to be admired in a dandelion. It is a resilient pioneer, a weed, an abstract shape, a This and even a That. But I knew that these were not the reasons that won it my matka’s affection.
She would turn to me , give me her full attention, but not the smile. Never that smile. And each time she would look down at me and sigh and pause and tilt her head. “It takes bravery to pick a dandelion, Nettles. It really takes something.”
That’s what I think of when I think of my matka. I remember you have to be brave and have something if you’re going to go off and be a dandelion picker. She wanted me to understand, to fathom the importance of the dandelion. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t earn the smile or share in the twinkle of her eye.
Instead I waited. And waited. And waited. And she grew old and tired and sick. (I wanted to pick her dandelions and put them in a jar for her to bring her joy in the hospital. But I was not brave) And I waited more. And one day a letter came and I put on my jacket and hurried out the door hoping to see her again. Hoping it was not too late to discover the secret of the dandelions.