Yes, I know the correct spelling is “gladiolus,” but I’m going for the pronunciation I heard as a child.
Let me retrace my train of thought, if that’s possible, and you have the patience… Recently, a friend was arranging some butter-yellow glads in a vase. Those flowers reminded me of a cousin’s recent note, in which she recalled fondly my dad bringing bunches of gladioli home to Mom.
I hadn’t thought about those armloads of sturdy, vivid flowers for years. Daddy loved them, and Mom had a tall, green vase specifically designed to hold the top-heavy blooms. You see, in the summer, Daddy brought glads home to Mom whenever he saw them being sold along the roadside. That special vase was filled much of the summer.
Gladioli are not shy, retiring, delicate flowers. They are sturdy, bold, and a bit awkward. I think Daddy loved them as much for the purchasing of them as for the pleasure of presenting them to Mom. When Daddy stopped at a roadside stand on the way home from getting a haircut, or a trip to the library or the dairy, he usually knew the farmers or gardeners who were selling the flowers. He could “chew the fat” (as Daddy called it)for a few minutes, ask after the kids and the grandparents, hear about the crops, and share a joke or sorrow.
Almost every farm stand sold glads – right there along with the fresh-picked tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, beets, and broccoli. All serviceable, take-care-of-yourself produce. And those glads held their own!
A bucket or old potato chip can was kept filled with water for the stems. And glads were usually in bloom from late June ’til mid-August, when the roadside stand took away the wooden sign, “GLADS FOR SALE,” and replaced it with “DAHLIAS” or “MUMS FOR SALE.”
But Daddy grew his own mums and dahlias, petunias and roses. It was the glads he left to others. Those handsome, durable blooms must have, I believe, reminded him of my mother, the woman who shared his life and kept his home harmonious and secure. Presenting a bouquet of long stemmed, red roses would have meant no more to Daddy or Mom than those gangly bunches of coral, yellow, pink, white, and even purple blooms. Like Mom, gladioli blossomed without much fuss, and cheered the spirit of all who took time to admire them.