Since I was very small, I have always adored forget-me-nots. We had them growing, a gentle blue patch of relaxation, in the rockery in the front garden – and something about their colour, their presence and, of course, their wonderful name both comforted and inspired me.
As a child, and teenager, I was easily forgotten. Although I was, I can now see, a pretty little girl, and bright, I did not have a big personality. Inhibited, shy, mostly silent and easily overawed by more developed characters, I spent most of my time in the world of talking forget-me-nots, wardrobes leading to enchanted lands and multiple coloured books of fairy stories.
I was no good at games, by no means a good all-rounder academically and did not make friends easily. When I went to grammar school in 1969, I found that all the members of the in-crowd lived in North Oxford (and mostly had fathers who were dons or deans at one of the university’s many colleges). They seemed to have an ease, a confidence and, corporately, a strong persona which I lacked.
Is it the ego which whispers so seductively, ‘You do not want to be forgotten, Child, now do you?’ or do all human beings have this instinctive wish to be remembered, to make an impact upon the world, to be one of the bright and shining ones in their generation?
I do not know. But I was drawn, as I say, to these fragile blooms, to their lovely symbolism and to their hope.
Why do I go back to forget-me-nots today? Something wonderful and miraculous has happened; something which has helped to bridge the quiet little Bambi and her much louder Alienora self; something which has made me realise that being invisible as a child does not matter in the wider scheme of things.
A few months ago, I happened to see the name of a girl in my year at Milham Ford on Facebook. She was not in my form and I don’t think we ever shared any lessons. She was not one of my group of friends, nor I of hers – and yet I remembered her very clearly, for she was a vivid character even back then.
I contacted her. To my delight, she wrote back. We messaged back and forth – and found that we had several important things in common. I do not think she had remembered me from school – but, funnily enough, this does not matter: The connection is in the now, and that is all that’s important.
We spoke on the phone for well over an hour on Friday – and I feel I have found a friend.
At school, she was someone I was in awe of. I saw her (as I saw so many of them) as very strong, incredibly bright and talented and, in some strange way I cannot quite define, in a class above me.
I can see now that I tucked myself away out of sight back in those days – but also that I was kind and empathetic and listened to others. Back then, I did not see the qualities I had as strengths. Now I do. Now I also see that my true personality was locked away rather than absent altogether – and that I was just as strong as those I both admired and feared.
With a move imminent, my dreams are drenched with the vibrant blue of forget-me-nots. They wave around and lie in abundance upon the sward of unknown forests and gardens as yet un-flowered. They give me a chill of fear, lest I am forgotten, and a warm breath of reassurance that I am planted securely in the rockery of true friends’ affection.
But perhaps of greatest importance, they remind me that the cycle goes on: They bud and grow and blaze a brief bright blue and then wither and die and so it begins again. Each moment of blue-in-the-present is what matters most. From that point of view, my pale and ghost-like presence as a teen is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that I have the capacity to befriend, to love, to interact, to share NOW, in my fifties.
But, it also constitutes a warning which I have ignored on all too many occasions. This girl, now a woman, was not a friend, so befriending her in our middle years was not tainted by broken circles from the past.
All too often, I have sought old female friends on social media sites, driven by nostalgia even though I knew, full well, that the relationship had ended for a reason all those years ago. Old patterns in relating assert themselves all too easily. Forget-me-not can be a double-headed thorn.
Almost without exception, I have not been able to flower as my present self with these figures from my past because we both have had a vast amount invested in the quiet, admiring, obedient and innocent girl I was back then.
My fear of being forgotten NOW is actually all about the fact that I was so often forgotten and overlooked THEN. I can see that.
But these delicate blue flowers have a delightful meaning:
Forget-Me-Not plants symbolize true love. The forget-me-not flowers are a medium, “true blue“. And as the name suggests, they are given or used to decorate gifts with the hope the recipient will not forget the giver. It also symbolizes faithful love and memories.
And I can see that this memory of a flower loved all my life has not returned randomly. It has come back for a purpose: To remind me that the metaphorical blue flowers I have planted in my loved ones’ hearts evoke all the above, not just FROM me – but also, TO me.
Those who forget, if vivid experience originally joined their hands together, are not worth remembering. No blue flower, pressed or fresh, will make any difference.
My forget-me-not friends are here to stay: The rockery is well-established and immune to wuthering wind. The flowers are sheltered by the bow window above. The sun darts in and out. Rain cools and nourishes. Soothing blue teaches love.