Jackson's mom hoping bouquets send message of love

Associated Press
Katherine Jackson poses for a portrait in Calabasas, Calif., Wednesday, April 27, 2011.  Jackson is lending her name and floral tastes to arrangements being sold online in a venture that provides her some peace-of-mind in advance of the upcoming trial for the doctor accused of her son Michael Jackson's death.  (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
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Katherine Jackson isn't looking forward to the upcoming trial of the doctor charged in connection with her son's death. She says the pain of his loss nearly two years ago remains and the potential punishment for the physician doesn't seem like it's nearly enough.

The matriarch of one of music's most famous families isn't planning any special preparations for the daily trek to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom where the trial begins May 9, but she says she'll rely on her faith to carry her through.

"I have mixed emotions," she told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "Sometimes I think why have a trial if ... the maximum sentence is only four years."

She has not spoken to Dr. Conrad Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, although she has seen him often from her seat at pretrial hearings in the case.

"I'll be there, but it just hurts me because my son is gone and for forever and this man is trying to get away and get off," she said. "He needs to be punished."

Katherine Jackson spoke at her new hilltop house in Calabasas, a community 10 miles west of the Jackson's longtime San Fernando Valley home, which is being renovated. White roses have been planted to be seen when looking out the back windows into the valley below, and flower beds line the walkways and the outside of the house — one of the requests Jackson said she made for the property when she arrived.

Flowers have always been a source of joy for the soft-spoken woman in her 80s, prompting smiles and excited descriptions of her favorite plants and blooms.

She recently extended her floral passion beyond her own garden, consulting on and endorsing a line of floral arrangements being sold online. Jackson said she hopes the venture will help others show their love for one another.

"I think flowers speak a thousand words," she said with a smile.

The retailer, sendherflowers.com, is hoping the $49-and-up arrangements with names such as "Precious," "Field of Love" and "Dynasty" will be a hit for Mother's Day. And Jackson hopes people will use them for any occasion, with plans to change the arrangements through the seasons.

As a devout Jehovah's Witness, Katherine Jackson does not celebrate Mother's Day or many of the holidays that prompt people to buy flowers. But her famous children still send Mom bouquets with some of her favorite blooms, including tulips and azaleas.

"They know I don't celebrate all the holidays, but they send them anyway," she said.

Her son Michael would send her flowers at least once a month, she said, including a large arrangement after his acquittal on child molestation charges in 2005.

In the days after his death, flowers poured into the family's home and Katherine Jackson says they carried with them a message she immediately understood and appreciated — she was not alone.

"They felt my pain," she said of the outpouring from fans and supporters. "It meant a lot to me. And at that time, I needed all of that to know the world was with me, the world felt my pain."

Her son's death at age 50 has thrust Katherine Jackson back into the role of mother. She is the guardian and caretaker of the singer's three children, who range in ages from 9 to 14.

Raising children in the Internet age poses a whole new set of challenges, she said, but her strategy hasn't changed. She said she still believes you have to show children respect, keep promises, and give them spiritual grounding. "Raise them with a conscience," she said.

Discipline is key, but she adheres to a simple philosophy — "Discipline with love." It was a lesson she said her son Michael apparently heeded.

After the singer's death, Katherine Jackson went to his home to clean up. There, she found several reminders he had scribbled to himself.

"He had notes around," she recalled. "'Discipline with love.'"

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