I often turn to a cup of brewed chrysanthemum when chaos knocks on my door. And when I inhale its aroma and savor its taste as a way to extract its healing properties, the thought of her manifests.
“Her name means chrysanthemum, a symbol of love and life. The result of where, who, and what I am is all attributed to her existence. It is because of her that I am alive, literally.
It dates back years ago. However unplanned our meeting was, it was destined to be love at first sight. Up until now, I confess that no matter how great my love is for her, her love for me has been logarithmically greater. Furthermore, now that we have been together for years, there have been instants when I missed to think that I live for her. In contrast, she never ceases to forget that the meaning to her life is me; she breathes, works, lives, and loves for me. No matter how selfish I am in achieving what I set out to accomplish, her love remains unconditional. When I fail, I avoid turning to her. And as you might have expected, she always cares to lend an ear and is always so loving. I owe it all to her.
Some time during Pol Pot’s takeover of Cambodia in mid 1970s
One of the gifts by Chrysanthemum for which I am thankful is her push for my education. Chrysanthemum came from a family that was fortunate enough to escape Pol Pot’s reign of terror alive. But unfortunately for her, the end of Pol Pot also left the nation economically receded, poverty-stricken, and most of its populations illiterate. As a result, Chrysanthemum did not have the fortune to receive any education as a child. Her main source of knowledge was her experiences which ranged from the wisdom passed down from her folks to her day-to-day empirical endeavors. Therefore, Chrysanthemum’s inability to fully verbalize her thoughts simplifies into an action-speaks-louder-than-words form of communication. This leads me to disclose to you that Chrysanthemum never mutters: ‘I love you’, which is a baffling feature of a woman whose one of the features is love. Nonetheless, our many years together have made me accustomed to her cryptic form of communication.
I also admire her for many of things she has taught me. One of which has also been deeply captured in a saying by Mahatma Gandhi, ‘live simply so others can simply live’. Through her passion to provide for me something she was deprived of, Chrysanthemum has taught me the importance of education and more importantly the essence of giving, the former a means to grow into a moral and practical being while the latter a conscientious quality I believe to be indispensable in defining humanity. To Chrysanthemum (perhaps I have finally come to realize), to give is to love.
I often think of the alternate reality, of what my life would have become if we had not met; I could be a completely different person, owning a different identity, living a different life, writing about a different woman…etc. But the work of probability brought me to her and she never had a second thought thereafter. Dear Chrysanthemum, I want to let you know that you are my creator–my god, you are my best life master, you are my greatest love, I can never ask for a better mother. Thank you for giving me life and teaching me how to live it. I thank you every day. Happy Mother’s Day.”
Hence, when I smell chrysanthemum, I smell peace. I smell devoted love. I smell where mom is.