Daisies always remind Scott Skinner of his mother. She carried them in her bridal bouquet. “Simple, Southern and elegant — just like her,” said Skinner, an interior designer and florist based in Anniston.
A great many of his memories of his mother, Christy Skinner, are scented with flowers.
“Growing up, my family always worked in the yard every Saturday and Sunday,” he remembered. “We had gardens of different types, but Mother's job was usually the flower boxes and planters.”
His mother loved daisies, geraniums, roses — especially yellow roses — and phlox, which came up in her yard for generations.
“She loved her flowers,” he said, “the more colorful the better.”
When he was a boy, Skinner would pick daffodils from the neighbor’s yard or azaleas from his own yard — “We seemed to have an abundance of the ‘Pride of Mobile’ variety” — for his mother, who always displayed them in a silver creamer that sat by the front door.
As the years went by, Skinner would travel with his mother and her best friend, Sandra Falkenberry, to Libby’s Plant Odyssey in Birmingham, where they would load up the car with flowers, then drive back home and “go to planting.”
Christy loved to sit on the front porch, surrounded by pots of colorful flowers and plants. It was her trademark, her son says — “that front porch was her safe haven.” Skinner still drives past that front porch every day, and even now looks for his mother and the flowers.
“She loved to have fresh flowers around,” he remembered. “If I was working on an event and had some flowers left over, I would always make an arrangement and take them to her.
“She never asked for much of anything, so when she had her first cancer battle, I tried to keep flowers around. She would always say the bright colors cheered her up.”
The family has two memorial stained-glass windows at Grace Episcopal Church in Anniston and it is a family tradition to decorate the windows for Easter. In years past, Skinner and his mother, along with his grandmother, Nellie Tyler Bennett, and his great-grandmother’s sister, Addie Noble McCaa Butler, would fill the window urns with Easter lilies, dogwood and azaleas.
After Aunt Addie passed, and his grandmother passed, “it was mother’s turn to be head of the Easter windows,” said Skinner, who would usually arrange the flowers while his mother “would oversee.”
“It was a fun tradition, just she and I,” he said. “When Mother died, it was my turn to take over. That first year was the hardest flower arranging ever.”
Christine Skinner passed away in 2011. She was 60 years old.
“I wanted nothing more than to arrange the casket flower blanket,” Skinner remembered, but just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He asked a dear friend, Yvonne Boothe of Evans Flowers, to do the honors. She used colorful flowers — the more colorful the better.
Skinner is still arranging flowers with his mother. For the past few years at Christmas, or Easter, he has taken fresh flowers and greenery to the cemetery, and made a wreath right there at graveside. “I feel like we are still decorating together,” he said.
“My mother’s grave will always have flowers,” he added. “I know her body is gone, but the spirit is there. Like in the movie ‘Fried Green Tomatoes,’ where towards the end you saw the honey at the grave of the dear friend, which brought warmth and love to both the living and the dead … I feel that way when I visit Mother and leave flowers.”