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Corned Beef, Cabbage and that Gentle Perfume of a Flower

Mar 18, 2024 | Memoir

Isn’t it hard knowing your mom died on St. Patrick’s Day? Between drinking and celebrating people always ask me this.

Thank you, I say. 

No it’s not too bad.

I try to think more about the coming of spring, not so much of my mom.

And yet I remember that day so well. Going to the hospital long after my mother died to pick up her stuff. By the time we got inside the Emergency Department, she was long gone, transported to the funeral home.

I’m so sorry for your loss, the charge nurse said and handed us a plastic bag with our mother’s belongings.

I don’t remember what was in that bag. Her purse? Maybe her shoes.

But after leaving the hospital, I remember the greenest grass, St. Patrick’s green, poking through the grit of blackened melting snow on the edge of people’s lawns, next to the curb.

It was so close to spring. My mother died and suddenly there was such nice weather. You could feel a thawing in the ground and in your bones and it was peaceful, I guess like the end of suffering.

Back home, I knew my wife was pregnant with the grandson my mother would never see, but there was still this optimistic feeling like in La Boheme when Mimi sings about the coming of spring:

I stay all alone
there in a white room
and look upon the roofs and the sky
but when the thaw comes
The first sun, like my
first kiss, is mine!
Buds in a vase…
Leaf and leaf I spy!
That gentle perfume of a flower!
But the flowers that I make,
Alas! no smell.

My sister and I took our time, walking back to our cars carrying the plastic bag with our mother’s meager belongings and yet somehow, I still felt this optimistic feeling.

Maybe sadness was everywhere and still is, so many years later, but now it’s intermittent and not necessarily tied to this day.

St. Patrick’s Day is too much fun. Such a wonderful day for so many people–even for myself. I learned to get past this loss a long time ago.

Now I eat corned beef and cabbage (or in honor of my vegan sister, who was present with me on that memorable St. Patrick’s day, Impossible Corned Beef and Cabbage).

And there’s so much gas produced by this meal.

Poor Mimi might have lasted a bit longer if she had one of these meals, but I don’t think she would have fallen in love.

That gentle perfume of a flower!
But the flowers that I make,
Alas! Now there most certainly is a smell.



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© Richie Smith 

© Richie Smith