My mother died just as yellow daffodils were peeking up from dark earth and the grass was turning from brown to green.

We were a study in contrasts. I am short, Mom was tall. I am dark, she was light. My refrain was “Gotta go,” hers was “Welcome home.” Me, I crave salt. Edith put three spoons of sugar in her coffee each morning, aggressively sweetening the day.

Looking back, I’d say it worked.

Mom spent summers here in Maine and the school year in Connecticut. She had two gardens, several sets of dishes — two homes bursting with antiques and ephemera. My daughters remember her saying, “Smell that ocean!” with inimitable pleasure and gusto.

She loved gardening, plunging her hands into the warm, rich dirt. Ignoring the directions on seed packages, she tended to plant things a bit close together. She appreciated the profuse, colorful and disorderly results.

My mother also unabashedly put on airs, without a trace of irony. For a time she had us carrying everything on trays to protect her celery-green carpet. More concept than floor covering, that celery-green carpet represented gracious living.

Our neighbor Jim called her “Lady Edith.” Or was it “Dame Edith”? Either way, I know she loved it.

She wore red lipstick and cracked her chewing gum, both deeply unfashionable nowadays, but magic in 1959. Her eyes were luminous green, cheekbones high and mouth generous — and usually smiling. Later, her light brown hair became an elegant silver mane. The lady always had a spark, the kind that turns heads.

Mom’s work with groups of women and troubled children earned her respect, admiration and accolades. A passionate spirit, she was perpetually bringing home human strays. In particular, I remember a skinny teenage girl named Georgie and two little boys named Porky and Weefie.

I hated going shopping with her. Invariably, she would catch the eye of some troubled soul who would glue him or herself to her. I often found myself in the unfortunate role of miniature cop, saying things like “Now, buddy, move along.”

As a child, I had a book about a little girl who gets lost, called “My Mother Is The Most Beautiful Woman in the World,” published by the Soviet-American Friendship Society. Unlike my mom, the mother in the book had a face like a potato.

The book ends with the old Russian proverb: “We do not love people because they are beautiful, but they seem beautiful to us because we love them.”

This thread leads me back to a sweeter time, when the drawings in a child’s book glowed with love. Perhaps this is my heart’s way of completing a circle. As a friend said, “It shows that loss and ‘lost’ are not the same thing.”

This Mother’s Day, I will miss my mother with all my heart. She was the most beautiful woman in the world.