Little White Flowers

Whenever I see little white flowers I think of my Aunt Nelly. She loved white flowers of all kinds but especially the tinier ones. So delicate. So pretty.

Aunt Nelly was a great embroiderer. She created all sorts of wonderful things from handkerchiefs to lace collars to tapestries, with her beautiful needlework. On every piece she made she embroidered a little white flower, sometimes as hard to find as that last piece of ocean in a jigsaw puzzle, but there if you looked close enough. It was her signature.

‘I love the flowers you make,’ I used to say to her.

‘Thank you, my dear,’ she would reply. ‘But flowers made from thread are never as beautiful as the real thing.’

My Aunt Nelly died when I was seven. It was the first time I shouted at my mother. ‘You are lying,’ I cried when she told me. ‘You are a liar.’ It was inconceivable my beloved Nelly, pretty, pure and sweet as her white flowers was gone. It was the worst thing in the world.

For the longest time I couldn’t look at white flowers. They were ice in my heart, a photo with a familiar, longed for face ripped out. But now, after all these years, I can look at them and feel the joy of them; and remember my dearest Aunt Nelly, always in my heart.

17 thoughts on “Little White Flowers

  1. Your Aunt Nelly sounds so special Sel. I love white flowers too, especially creamy white roses. But the tiny little ones have a certain beauty all their own, I agree. Lovely story. Sending a hug to you and your Aunt Nelly too. I’m sure she’s looking down and smiling at you, right now.

    Re: seasons, I’m wondering what your fav season is. I think it’s spring but not sure. That was so nice what you said about Autumn. 🙂


    1. I don’t know what they’re actually called but I love those creamy white roses that have a vintage look to them. They are so gorgeous. There is something about a white flower that is just so classic.

      I think Aunt Nelly’s still with me too.

      I DO like Spring. I used to love autumn the most when I lived in the UK but in Australia the shift to Autumn as far as colours and everything go, is less dramatic, so now I favour Spring. It is such a jolly season!


  2. What a lovely idea; a flower signature! And at 7, perhaps that was your first real loss. But as you say, wisdom brings the ability to separate the loss from what remains, the beauty of what they thought, did and were.
    Hope the thumb has returned from its Uma Thurman stand-in chore out on the highway.


    1. It was my first real loss. She died of cancer at 38. I didn’t realise until years later how sick she was. It breaks my heart sometimes because I wish I had known her when I was older. She was an artist too. A painter. My Aunt Jo has all her work. She was actually pretty good.

      And yes, the thumb is much better, although I did enjoy being freaky like Uma for a moment 😀


  3. What a lovely story, and how marvelous that Aunt Nellie signed her needlework with a flower.

    I had an Aunt Nellie, and she was quite a character. I also have a beautiful shrub of those white flowers that you have in the picture at the top of the post. I used to call them Bride Doll Bouquets, but I believe they’re called Spirea.


    1. Thank you, Karen. I didn’t know what they were called. I never know what anything is apart from the obvious ones. I used to have a couple of neighbours I could ask about things but they have moved away now so I’m often stumped. Bride Doll Bouquets – that is so cute. It really fits!


  4. I can feel the devastation of your seven-year-old self in your words, Sel. I’m so sorry you experienced such a heartbreaking loss at such a young age. Glad you can remember her with joy now, though.


    1. It was hard to lose her. I did adore her. She had a really serene spirit. As kids we really don’t understand death. It hurts like a blow to the chest. I guess it hurts that way as adults too but presumably we are better able to rationalise it. I am so glad I can look at white flowers again!


  5. It is amazing the impression that one can have on a young life.

    I hope that I can have a lasting positive memory with those in my life–even those I only have a short time to spend with.


    1. For me it is little things that have left the impressions – like the white flowers with my Aunt. My great grandmother was a glass artisan so I think of her whenever I see stained glass or coloured glass. And my grandfather played sea shanties (badly) on the fiddle so I always think of him when I hear ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor.’ At the time you don’t think anything of those small things but afterwards they stay with you. I am POSITIVE you will have a long lasting memory with your nearest and dearest. Positive!


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