A Marigold Memoir
A story of romance blooms in the month of October in a fictional country town, Khankatree. The Marigold Festival brings a renewed sense of hope, optimism, and good fortune.
To my darling daughter, Marianne Lee Beganoti,
I don't know how much time I have left. I am sitting up in my hospital bed, writing this memoir for you to read when you turn 18. Knowing I won't be around, there will come a time when you may have many questions about me and how you came to be. I hope this narrative will help fill a void that will be left in your life. Nothing is felt more greatly than a mother's absence.
It breaks my heart to imagine that I won't be there to see you get married or graduate high school. This is my chance to tell you things all daughters want to eventually know, like how their parents met, what to do when love hits a dead end and how to know who to trust when you are in the dark.
You are going to have to be so strong. I know, because I lost my mother very young also, at about the same age as you. In 12 years' time, I hope when you open this memoir, you will be able to take on my advice as I wish someone had been able to provide for me. I was lucky that I had your grandfather Joey to support me, but I pined for a woman's touch for many years, especially after I left high school.
So, I'm going, to begin with, something fun and kind of romantic. It was one of the craziest days of my life. But I have not a single regret as corny as it sounds, it changed my life in the most magical way. Before this day I used to be so skeptical about fate and luck. But this day actually helped me to heal and I became a little less closed to the possibility that somewhere out there, there is something or someone that can explain the reasoning behind this crazy life we have.
So, anyway, here I go. As you know, I grew up in a town called Khankatree, Victoria. Each first of October, the Marigold Festival would roll into town bringing people from far and wide to celebrate the new season of Spring in Australia. People from all walks of life and various stages would come to let go of the old and renew energy for a new, exciting, unknown future.
Each year, your grandfather and I would go to the festival together. We started going when I was 6 years old - the last year my mother, your grandmother Betty was alive. We would participate in and observe the annual games and traditions including matchmaking ceremonies, presentations of yellow Marigolds to a statue of the Virgin Mother Mary, and there was this big wish pond in the middle of the park that the festival was held at. As a young girl, I just thought that it was just a bunch of fun, nothing too serious. I, honestly thought, and your father assumed the same as me, that the festival was secretly run by a cult. We were half-joking, of course! Life is too short to invest in nonsensical conspiracies.
Live openly, Marianne. Avoid acquiring destructive gossiping habits and groups of people that bond over bringing others down. It is a toxic environment.
If you truly are 18yo when you read this, and haven't "accidentally" opened this earlier, you may have already experienced this at high school. I hope you haven't, but know that now you have the opportunity to grow into the woman you desire to be.
Anyway, as I was saying, there was a gold coin pond in the center of the park where people could make prayers or wishes. At night the pond and the trees around covered in yellow fairy lights were turned on for a most majestic scene of beauty and elegance. After twenty-five years since the pond was built, so many coins had been thrown into that pond that its bottom became completely covered in gold. It was named Mida's Pond because it has gained a reputation over the last few years as a "miracle" pond, turning wishes into reality. This is the pond where your father and I met. We were both secretly laughing at the idea that it was a "magical" pond.
He was just standing there with the widest grin on his face. We locked eyes and we joked about how ridiculus the festival was. He was so handsome. I was mesmerized by his big blue eyes and he quite literally took my breath away. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold coin. He reached out his arm toward me and offered it to me. "Go on, give it a shot. Let's be a bit ridiculous today."
Laughing and feeling the blood rush to my cheeks, I took the coin. "But I don't know what I want, " I said to him.
"C'mon, Marianne, there must be something you want, maybe an engagement ring from your man?" he quizzed me.
"I don't have a man in my life," I replied. I could see in his eye he was interested in me. "What would you wish for?"
He chuckled and hesitated before responding: "I think you're meant to keep that a secret," he finished that with a wink. "Just go for what you want. Don't be shy."
"I will if you will," I affirmed to him. I pulled a gold coin from my purse and offered it to him.
"Okay, let's test this pond out. Wish for the most ridiculous thing we could think of," he said, staring into my eyes. We both, at the same time, threw in our gold coin and made our wish. We laughed and then separated back to our groups: me to my folks and him to his friends.
Throughout the whole day, drinks and refreshments free flow along a strip of marquees and tents, selling all sorts of products and therapeutic treatments offered for all sorts of ailments and conditions. Marigold extracts are particularly sought after for their anti-inflammatory properties in the skin. One year, a marquee started selling a tonic promising better health and vitality. Since then, others have followed in their footsteps and there are currently fifteen different tonics being endorsed at the Maridold Festival. Yes, I tried some of them, but none of them stopped me from getting cancer, so I can't confirm any of those claims. I think ultimately our time is set.
We have as much real choice in the way we live our lives as we did to begin them.
We were just put here by something, and according to some psychologists anyway, the way I understand, most of our attitudes are formed when we aren't really conscious of them anyway. So I believe having a choice is somewhat an illusion in life and we don't ever fully know what we are doing.
I mean, if you know how to capitalize on the lemons life gives you, then you can maximize your success. But we still don't come from the same backgrounds, do we? There has to be some sense of diversity in the roles people play in life otherwise things lose meaning.
So, my advice, my darling, is don't take things too seriously. Life is fleeting and not as expensive as we think. You are here to fulfill a purpose, that you may never fully comprehend. So, don't carry too much on your shoulders. Carry what you can and keep on moving. Life stops for no one.
Anyway, sorry I rambled on again...
So, one of the most popular events at the Marigold Festival was the love-matching events. They were a laugh! A small red circular tent was set up where men and women attending the festival could test their luck at a chance at love. I saw your father standing outside with his group and looked across at me and smiled.
During the day, there were a series of shows including match-maker games, hypnotists, comedians, magicians, musicians and plays. Over the years, men and women have made wonderful, joyous memories and perhaps some have even found their elusive true love, whether that was for life or a mere moment. A few years ago, there was a neat little extension to these activities. For the first time ever in the forty-year history of the Marigold Festival in Khankatree, there was going to be a special, lucky wedding.
Upon entering the big red tent, attendees were awestruck by the vision inside. It had been set up as the most beautiful wedding ceremony. The chairs were arranged in rows and decorated with flowers and ribbons. The color scheme consisted of a dusty, baby yellow, eucalyptus green, and creamy white. Yellow marigolds lined the main aisle in the center, leading up to a most mesmerising alter. On the alter there was a long table with candle sticks, flower petals, leaves and in the centre, there were two large red marigolds.
Mesmerised and intrigued, people started piling into the tent and sitting down. From behind me, I heard a guy's voice saying, "who's wedding are we being invited to?"
Then I felt a guy whisper in my ear, "did you wish for a wedding?". Startled, I turned around and it was your father. It was 1 pm. We sat down next to each other in the back row. Once everyone was seated, a woman wearing a mint green bridesmaids dress walked out onto the alter with a microphone.
"Welcome!" she greeted the audience. "I hope you are all as excited as I am, today!" She paused to gauge the energy of the room, before continuing. "I know you're all wondering who I am and why the infamous Marigold Love Tent has been set up as a wedding ceremony."
Acknowledging all the nods, the woman continued. "I am Liza Angelica and I am a relationship coach. Today we are going to play a game with the love gods.
As you know, this festival is about celebrating the marigold flower and the power it possesses. The marigold flower is a sign of good luck, optimism and renewal. Today, we will invite the brave lonely and broken-hearted souls among us today, to engage in a game of love-finder."
Your father and I looking at each other, holding back laughter. There was murmuring around the tent and anticipation was filling the air. The lady in the green dressing gown, picked up the two red marigolds on the table. "These two flowers will be circling around the Festival. The two people who have it in their hand and are back here at 5 pm, will win a date plus some relationship guidance from myself. If you want to be in this, you have to wear one of these gold sashes so we can tell you apart." She picked up a collection of sashes that had been on the table behind her. "Careful what you wish for, good luck." Then she left and took the flowers with her...
...well, in the end, guess who got married that day?
Yes, there in front of a red tent full of strangers, holding a red marigold your father and I promised our lives to each other. How we had gotten hold of the flowers was completely unexpected. Neither of us was actively pursuing it. For a laugh, we both put a gold sash on. We were convinced and still are, that the festival was being run by a cult. But, we agreed to be ridiculous that day. So, we got married at 5 pm. It was just our luck.
For me, someone had forgotten the flower at one of the tonic stalls I had been at. I saw it and looked at the time. It was 4:45 pm. I picked up the flower. A lady at the stall encouraged me to run down to the tent to meet the person with the other flower. Suspending all my logic for that moment, in the name of doing something ridiculous, I left for the Love Tent. There I saw him, holding the other red flower: your dashing father. We laughed and then fulfilled our pond wish, spending the next eight years together.
Darling, you will learn more as you continue reading through this memoir. There are many more chapters as there will be in your life, now that you are finishing high school. There are so many more stories, like, when you were born, your first birthday and, Christmas, and, I have so much advice. I just want you to have something to help you feel connected to me when I am gone. I hope this attempt is a success.
All my love, your mother xxoo