I lay on the float in the pool, overlooking my backyard garden. Such a beautiful summer day.
“I miss you, Mom,” I said.
It had been nine days since my mom passed away. She had been sick with breast cancer and other health issues for the last few years—one complication after another. She’d been in and out of care facilities, each stay taking more out of her. Now she was finally at peace.
After her death, I’d gone back to work at my brother-in-law’s auto shop, and life had gotten busy with my kids, who were out of school on summer break. But in the evenings, I would float in the pool to quiet my mind, and my thoughts often turned to Mom.
Mom and Dad had adopted me when I was only three weeks old. They’d been open about it, and I’d known for as long as I could remember. Later, when I was older, Mom even shared a last name that she’d spotted on my adoption papers, although it was a closed adoption. That was so like her, to make sure she passed on anything that might someday help me. She was warm and open, with a beautiful laugh and a personality as bright as her favorite flowers—yellow daisies. She was so supportive. In high school, if I ever came home late from a night out with friends, she’d be there waiting on the love seat in the family room as I snuck in through the back door. “How was your night?” she’d say, a twinkle in her eye. “Tell me all about it.” And we’d talk into the wee hours. Nothing changed when I got older. She was my person.
As I readjusted on my float, my gaze fell on the tomato plant in my garden. There, in front of it, stood a small yellow flower. A daisy.
I blinked. Was I imagining things? I leapt off my float, put on my flip-flops and rushed over to inspect it—a beautiful little daisy that had sprung up seemingly out of nowhere. We didn’t have daisy plants.
I thought back to a promise Mom and I had made, ages ago at one of the care facilities. I was visiting with the kids one weekend, when suddenly I said, “Whoever goes first, let’s send the other a sign.” Mom had smiled and agreed.
Could this be it?
I ran inside the house, grabbed my phone and called my husband, Dan, and the kids to come and see.
”Hon, I was here earlier today, and that was not here!” Dan said. I snapped a photo of the daisy and texted it to my aunt and a few close friends. “From Mom—she’s still with us :).”
The daisy brought me comfort every time I looked at it. It came up in conversation a few weeks later, while I was on a weekend trip with my friends Jean and Rena, who’d been part of the text message group. They’d insisted we go on a getaway to lift my spirits. One evening, we were all relaxing in the pool of the house where we were staying.
“I shared the story of the daisy with my friend Peggy after you sent me the message,” Rena said. “When I showed her the picture of the flower, she was moved to tears.”
“That’s so sweet,” I said.
“My Peggy?” Jean asked, referring to one of her cousins.
“No, my Peggy,” Rena said. “Peggy Otto.”
I froze. Otto. I recognized it as the name Mom had seen on my adoption papers.
“Rena,” I said, trying to keep my composure. “Do you know if anyone in Peggy’s family ever gave a baby up for adoption?”
“Yes, Peggy did,” Rena said.
“‘Otto’ is the name my mom saw on my adoption papers!” I said.
The more details we compared, the more things seemed to line up, until I told Rena that I had been born in Cincinnati.
Rena shook her head. “I don’t think Peggy had her baby in Ohio.”
My heart sank. But Rena promised she’d reach out to Peggy.
Finally, after a few weeks of anx-ious waiting, the phone rang. Rena had big news.
“I just talked to Peggy,” she said. “She did have her baby in Cincinnati. She thinks it could be you, and she wants to meet!”
We arranged for Peggy and me to meet at Rena’s house. When I arrived, a woman with long dark hair was nervously walking toward me. I eagerly stepped out of my van, and we met in front of it, eyes locked.
“Peggy?” I said.
“Are you Michelle?” she said.
“Yes,” I said. “I go by Shell.”
Peggy began to cry. “You’re mine,” she said, embracing me.
Once we were able to track down my original birth certificate, it confirmed Peggy was my mother. And over the next several years, Peggy became a part of my family. She is the person I call with my cares. The grandmother my kids can always turn to. It was Mom’s daisy from heaven that closed the circle. Because while I never could’ve imagined how much we’d need Peggy in our lives, Mom did.
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