The peonies that I transplanted from my mother's garden two years ago have bloomed for the first time.
When I saw these full, frilly blossoms, I thought of their connection with my grandmother, Monnie.
Although she looks very solemn in this formal portrait, taken in St. Louis around 1909, I know from her diaries that this lively woman loved playing cards, riding horses, attending theatricals, and socializing with her seven siblings, numerous cousins, and beaux.
Monnie was relatively young when she died from a protracted degenerative illness. According to my mother, my grandfather never spoke about her--"because he loved her too much"--but he would take peonies from my mother's garden to lay on Monnie's grave on their wedding anniversary. I suspect that the story is rather more complicated than that of transcendent love, but who knows?
So now, linking three generations, sixty years, and four hundred miles, I have the same peonies growing in my garden.