Friday, April 24, 2015

A Marriage and Violets

In late April I think of the columns Clara Hieronymus used to write in The Tennessean newspaper. Not her theater columns from her 40 years as theater critic for the newspaper but the annual columns about her wedding anniversary and her April garden.

The newspaper photo above is from my diary as I could not find it online. Her bridal coronet is made of Confederate violets, and violets were always her leitmotif in the columns.

Here are some excerpts from her columns that I saved in my diaries, along with pictures of the Confederate violets that grow in our own garden among the purple ones. 

Mrs. Hieronymus taught me to love them.

"As if to urge a more familiar mood of festivity, our violets are in bloom, in the garden borders and all over the yard--long-stemmed Confederate violets whose woodland find supplied the flowers for my wedding veil, rich purples from a friend's garden years back, whites and pale lavenders, and bright yellows that speak of my husband's fondness for yellow flowers."

"It makes me happy to recall the morning I opened my eyes and saw my young husband standing by my hospital bed. Our first child had just been born and my husband had bought all the violets the florist had, bringing the purple bouquets to me in both hands."

",,,55 years of companionship with a man who has been patient and loving and appreciative of April's metaphorical bounty of violets, year after year."

"We met our problems in these 56 years with hearts as resolute as we could make them…we grew together in increasing sympathy and loving understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses."

"With violets and grape hyacinths making the yard a blue and green mosaic of flowers and grass, we greet another year."

Each year, year after year, I read Mrs. Hieronymus's columns, inspired by their marriage and yes, envying their marriage. They didn't quite make it to their 58 year anniversary as her husband passed away the month before their next anniversary. 

That year Mrs. Hieronymus wrote:

"In the midst of grief I reach for solace, and find comfort in the fact that he was here to see one of the most beautiful springtimes in the 45 years we have lived in Nashville.

"The violets that he knew I loved bloomed in a joyous abandon of purple, yellow, white and blue in the borders and grass everywhere.

"We loved this garden, his Christmas gift to me one year…A haven where we might savor coffee and the morning paper, or visit over a glass of wine on a summer evening, listening to the whispery rustle of the cane and growing quiet as a hummingbird visited the red salvia.

"We walked together in this paradigm of beauty for the last time.

We said goodnight to each other that evening.

We did not know it was also goodbye.

"I am grateful for 58 years of a husband's warm and undemanding love. My heart hurts. My eyes fill. But I think I hear him saying,

"It's all right honey.
Don't cry.
Look, the violets are blooming."

Companionship. Sharing a love of family, home and garden. Isn't their's a beautiful story?

Clara Hieronymus died November 30, 2013 at 100 years of age.


  1. Dear Dewena,

    This love story of a woman and her beloved husband, of their family, their home and precious garden, and their forever bond, is one of the most inspiring I've ever read, and I know you have gathered many over the years. In doing so, who could have ever imagined that one day, today's contribution from your treasured collection would bring an uprooted, middle-aged woman, far away from her own child, family, and homeland, to tears, after reading the beautiful words of both its writers?! Indeed, Mrs. Hieronymus's marriage was one to be admired, and yes, easily envied, for the love, respect, and truth shared by its adoring and devoted life-long partners.

    Thank you, once again, for your brilliant mind, sensitive heart, and sweet soul.

    Love to you,

    1. Poppy, see my reply to you further down this page. Again, I hit the wrong button.

  2. What a beautiful post! I love the violets every spring too. I have never heard of Confederate violets; they are lovely. Thank you for sharing such moving remembrances.

    1. Thank you, Brenda. I always love the posts you write about the history of your community. I think it's good to pass along these stories.

  3. What a beautiful story of true love and graciousness and oh, I don't know, just the sweetness that this world seems to have forgotten. Thank you, Deweena, for sharing that with us. And, of course, I had tears in my eyes as I came to the close of one of the best posts I think I have ever read.

    1. Latane, thank you for sharing in my tears for this amazing woman and man. I wish I could have put more about him but she always paid tribute to his support of her career.

      One unusual thing--his first name was Senator! An imposing name his parents gave him, don't you think? His friends called him "Hi".

  4. Poppy, thank you. I'm so glad you felt the beauty of this relationship even though I could only give you snippets of their life. There was so much more. She was a pillar of the Nashville community, not just for her reports of the theater trips to New York that Nashvillians queued up to go to in her company, but she was instrumental in supporting children's theater in Nashville as we'll as other community projects.

    But each April when I read her columns in The Nashville Eye section of the newspaper I always ended with tears in my eyes.

    Thank you again, dear friend, for sharing in my love for this grand lady.

  5. What a lovely post.....

    Thank you for sharing a lady, of whom I have never heard.

    I love violets too. :-)

    1. Thank you, Tessa, we must pass on stories of these grand women!

  6. What a beautiful story of companionship and love that lasts. The leitmotif of violets is a lovely one. And to have the memory of the last walk in the garden, the last kiss goodnight is simply wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Lorrie. It means so much to me to pass along some of her story. I never met her face to face but every time I read her columns, gardening, theater or the home furnishings columns she sometimes wrote, I felt that I was learning important things from a wise woman.

  7. this brought me to tears. unexpectedly... at the end.
    a true mentor. and as you say... a wise woman.
    thank you for sharing her here. it was a little strange...
    as if i were right back in time... walking with her in her garden.
    listening to her talk. i love violets too. 'the little flower.'
    what a beautiful couple they were! and even as an old woman.
    the strength and beauty in that face. oh my.

  8. That's the way I felt each time I read her columns, Tammy. So glad you did too!

    And her husband was a native Oklahoman! From Norman, I believe! And she earned a bachelor's degree at 18 from the University of Tulsa. And a masters from the U of OK at Norman in social work.

    Isn't that great?

    And yes, the character is obvious in that beautiful face.

    Love to you, Tam!

  9. Love is what we make it, isn't it? Such an inspiring lady... I can see how reading her writing inspired you... and now, you are inspiring us. Good follows good... Thank you. blessings ~ tanna

    1. Thank you, Tanna. She was an amazing lady!

  10. Loved this post! I used to pick violets for my mom and grandmother as a young girl and to this day wander through my lawn picking a few when they arrive along with the dandelions in the spring!

    How beautiful her wedding photo is! How romantic to imagine her husband with his gift of all of the violets the florist had. :)

    Sad ending but not. For those of us who never married the right person and wonder how that might be...sad but beautiful. Dewena I think that YOU married the right person and are blessed just like her :)

    1. Thank you, Deb! R.H. is definitely a keeper!

      And the Hieronymus' marriage is a rare one today but an encouraging one for our children and grandchildren as they marry that it can happen.

      Her words about the violets at the birth of her firstborn touched my heart too!

  11. I could almost see them sitting in that garden. And what she wrote after her husband me all choked up. I can certainly how she inspired your love for violets!

  12. It is challenging for me, to imagine a marriage such as this, as marriages are such fragile and complex entities. Choosing a partner who is congenial, pragmatic,tolerant, loving, brilliant and kind all in the same hour is rare and beautiful. I can see why you were touched by Hieronymus' marriage, as I am today in reading this. I suppose in the end it truly is love that conquers all.
    Beautiful, Dewena!

  13. Beautiful...and posts like this keep me blogging when I wonder why I'm still here after five years. Thank you, Dewena.

  14. She wrote beautifully, which is so rare these days. What a wonderful life she seemed to have. If only everyone could.

    Thank you for sharing her with us, Dewena.


  15. What a beautiful story about a treasured love. I can see why you admire her, and why the violets remind you of her. Violets are such a pretty flower, and their purple color warms my heart as it is my favorite color. It's nice to see her young picture on her wedding day and then again years later. I can't believe she lived to 100! She sounds like a wonderful writer.

    love, ~Sheri

  16. What a lovely post about love and life. It is wonderful to have women who inspire admiration that we can all look up to.

  17. What a sweet, sweet post. And here it is again, violet time.

  18. I really enjoyed this. Thanks. Something nice just before bed.

  19. Such a beautiful story. Thank you so much for posting it.

  20. A truly beautiful and inspiring lady, inside and out. It's easy to see why she had such a fulfilling marriage, as I believe we get what we give. Such devotion and caring is sadly rare. How fortunate she was to have lived such a satisfying, fruitful life, and how fortunate are we to have you share it Dewena!

  21. Such a beautiful story Dewena. I can see why you loved her writing so much. To think of her husband appearing at her bedside with fistfuls of violets . . .

  22. Loved your comment earlier, Dewena. :) teehee Laughed when I read your friend's comment about garages. :)
    Okay, so now I'm in love with majolica. How gorgeous!
    Thx for visiting today.

  23. Oops, meant to type maiolica.

  24. Well, I've learned since that it's spelled either way. teehee Point is that I am now in love with this pottery thanks to you, Dewena, and from the looks of it, I'm in trouble. lol