Anita would never hold it against a man that he loved his Mother. She was very close to her own. But she really wished Ken wouldn’t get out that photo again. The one where she was smiling (she couldn’t quite suppress the word “Simpering”) at the camera and had a flower in her hair. “A gardenia,” he explained, unnecessarily. “Like in the song.”
There was nothing wrong with femininity either. But she hoped he had no intentions of her wearing a gardenia in her hair and simpering at the camera. She was resigned, rather than surprised, to discover that Dorothy (who preferred to be called Dolly) loved doing needlepoint and her cupcakes were unrivaled.
Meeting her could not be put off forever. She was even smaller and more dainty than she looked in the photo, and yes, she was wearing a gardenia in her hair. And a blouse with a pussy-cat bow.
“Oh, Anita, I’m so glad to meet you,” she said, in a voice that was pleasant but too high-pitched for a grown woman.
“I’ll leave you girls to get to know each other,” Ken said.
Anita hoped her sigh wasn’t audible when Anita got out an old-fashioned photo album. Still, she had to agree Ken had been a beautiful baby. There was no father on the scene. Ken had never mentioned him. “I know you’re wondering,” Dolly said, “He left me while I was expecting Ken. We were just setting up the market garden ….”
She didn’t make a drama out of it, but Anita realised that even when heavily pregnant, Anita had still dug and planted and haggled with suppliers for good prices to get the Gardenia Garden Centre off the ground.
She’d sold it long since, but now she dug and planted and “kicked posterior” as she put it, with a wry smile, at the community garden she’d established. She’d recently, against vociferous opposition, taken on an ex-offender, and he hadn’t let her down. “I guess old habits die hard,” she fingered the gardenia in her hair. “But it is kind of pretty!”