Bittersweet Crocuses

I always liked crocuses.     They’re kind of special to me. .

They’re delicate, they don’t last long.   They’re the  “real”  flower of spring.

I remember as a kid, having fond memories of seeing the first ones come up.

It meant that Easter (and Easter chocolate) was right around the corner.

And it meant that there were only a few  months of school left, until summer vacation.

But that’s changed.

Now, when I look at crocuses,  it’s a bittersweet moment.


You see, it was five years ago, about this time of year, when the crocuses were out, that I visited my parents.

One of the neighbors down the road had a yard full of them, and I went crazy taking all kinds of photos, not unlike the ones here.

The visit was nothing out of the ordinary, but I remember it as one of my better visits in recent memory.

It was just me and my folks.   No other siblings were  around, I was like the “only child” again.

Everyone was relaxed.   My Dad was especially in a good mood.   I returned home on Monday with a camera full of crocus images to paint.


Little did I know that was the last time we’d all be together.


A couple of weeks later,  back in my own home, I was chatting with Mom and Dad long-distance, and then I stayed up late to finish a painting of one of my latest crocus photos.

This painting.

Sometimes during that night, Dad passed away.

Just like that.   No warning.    He died in his sleep.

It’s funny…how this painting spans his life.

When I started it, he was probably still alive, asleep in bed.

And the next morning, he was gone.


I won’t go into the details of the months that followed, the grief, the pain.

That was five years ago, and I’ve mostly gotten over it.

But I’m still at a loss as what to do with this painting.

I can’t bear to frame it and hang it in my house…it’s too painful.

But I can’t bear to part with it either.   Not ever.


So now, every spring, when I see those damned crocuses pop up, it brings me back to that special weekend five years ago, and how quickly things changed after that.

 Like I said…crocuses are kind of special to me.

They’re delicate, they don’t last long.   They’re the  “real”  flower of spring.

But they also make me hurt inside,  just a little.


That’s why they’re bittersweet.


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7 Comments on “Bittersweet Crocuses”

  1. Lisis Says:

    This is beautiful, Friar… truly. I’m impressed that you wrote it, so proud of you for posting it, and thankful that I got to read it. Having lost both my parents, I can relate to those certain things along the way that will forever be poignant. Mostly, I think it’s awesome that you take the time to notice (and take pictures of and paint) the crocuses, even though they’re bittersweet to you. You never cease to surprise me, my friend. 🙂

  2. Friar Says:

    My condolences to having both your parents gone. I remember you writing about it a while back. …you’ve seen more than your own share of grief.

    Thankfully, my Mom is still around. Whenever she does leave us, it would be nice if it didnt’ coincide with crocus-time. That would be a double-whammy.

  3. Hi Friar,

    I echo Lisis’s words. Like her, I lost both of my parents and even though it’s been many years, certain things continue to bring memories back to the surface.

    It sounds like your last visit with your Dad was extra special. Although crocuses are bittersweet to you, in some ways I’d also think they are a reminder to celebrate his life and the memories you shared.

    You have my sympathies.

  4. Dot Says:

    A very touching post. I’m sorry you lost your father that way. I think after some more years, perhaps the painting can serve as a tribute to your Dad. When I lost my Dad, I hadn’t seen him in years and was just thinking about finding a way to see him (lots of family drama). Crocuses have always been special to me too. I loved the way they came up through the snow to tell me spring was really coming.

  5. Friar's Mom Says:

    Wee Friar,

    For you it’s crocuses, for me it’s lilacs.

    Weeks prior to Jay’s unexpected passing away, we had agreed to do something nice for each other every day.

    On the afternoon before he died, I took him by his hand, and despite his sore knee, we did a short slow walkabout in our back yard to see the early spring perennials.

    He commented on the profusion of budding lilacs on our large French lilac tree, and suggested a bouquet. I said “Let’s wait until tomorrow. They’ll open up a bit”.

    After our walkabout, I continued planting seeds in the garden. Much later, when I came into the kitchen he surprised me with a bouquet of lilacs in a crystal vase.

    Jay died in his sleep that night. When I walked into the kitchen the scent of lilacs greeted me. The lilacs had opened up and were beautiful. That was the last nice thing he did for me.

  6. Friar Says:

    It gets easier every spring..but you never quite forget it, either.

    My dad’s sudden death was hard on us, but I guess it coudl have been much worse. He golfed, had supper, and went to bed. That’s not a bad way to go, when you think of it.

    @Friar’s Mom
    Lilacs get to me too.

  7. svc Says:

    How courageous of you to share. I am also orphaned and have been since the age of 35. I also recently lost a sister, and fellow artist. I have one sister remaining. I pull out the old pictures, and watch old videos on summer days off. In the same moment, I play my old albums which I love … Rush, Supertramp, Trooper, Cat Stevens, Carole King … and look at my older artwork. They and these experiences are who I am.

    Like the crocuses, I see your father popping up on the other side, and his smile, his last bloom and show here with you.

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