One of my favorite memories is a trip to the Ohio Appalachian foothills with my parents when I was in my early 20s. I’d persuaded them to take me there because I wanted to see all the places where they'd lived and played as children. The road leading to the hollow where Mom's childhood home stood was a narrow, dusty dirt road. As our car bumped around curves and over hills, I sensed a growing excitement in Mom. The years fell away and she was 15 again, walking the same dusty roads she’d walked to and from church with her first love, the boy she was to eventually marry. “There’s Grandma Barbara’s old home place,“ she said excitedly as she pointed out a two-story, white clapboard house with a wide, wrap-around porch. "And there’s the bridge where I hid my clothes the night before Irvin and I eloped!" After a long, fun day of exploring and reminiscing, we returned to our hotel, which set back from the road up a hill. As we climbed the wrought iron steps to our room , I suddenly stopped as a I caught a whiff of the most incredibly sweet fragrance. “What's that smell?” I asked. “Wild honeysuckle,” Mom whispered, pointing out the arching vines twining through the thick brush. We just stood there together for a few minutes, in the twilight, not speaking, taking in the scents and sounds around us.
The honeysuckle flower is a symbol of everlasting love, devotion and generosity - all attributes my mother possessed. Honeysuckle has been mentioned in poems and songs and featured in paintings, including “Honeysuckle Bower,” by Peter Paul Rubens - a double portrait of the artist and his wife sitting beneath a blossoming honeysuckle shrub. Honeysuckle extract is frequently used in perfumes, face creams and soaps. As a curative, it’s also effective for respiratory issues and reducing fever. But, for me, honeysuckle will always be a warm evening in late spring, at twilight, standing on the steps with my mother.
Peter Paul Rubens