The Gardener Inside Me (or, Am I Becoming My Mother?)

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For the past ten days, I have been gifted with time–time to catch up on neglected tasks, time to bring order to my surroundings, time to enjoy my family, time to think and be and do–without the pressures of schedules or work or exhaustion. It has been a blessed time. And, a bonus is the sense of hope and peace and calm that it has brought to my life. Tomorrow the respite ends, but I pray that I will be able to hold onto that serene spirit as I reenter the work world. Above you see evidence of one of the pleasant days that I shared with my family–specifically, one morning at a local garden center with my mother.

You see, Mom is a gardener. If we had been more affluent as I was growing up, I am sure that she would have been a member of the garden club and, most likely, a Master Gardener. (Instead of waiting tables at a local diner and then working at a hospital, starting in housekeeping and retiring from work in the central sterilizing department of surgery.) She has the gift of making things grow, and she has a heart for the beauty of God’s flowering plants. Her 88th birthday is approaching, and family, friends, and acquaintances often comment how young she seems. Just this week it dawned upon me that gardening (and a big, fat, tiger-striped cat) are two of the ingredients contributing to her youthful spirit.

She comes by the love of growing things honestly. She was a devoted daughter, and we made weekly trips to my grandparents’ place when I was growing up. A part of each visit was always a walk around the yard to ooh and ah over the latest bloom on the rose or cactus, iris or daylily, or, perhaps, a tomato or cucumber plant. As a child, I was less than impressed with the two adult women as they carefully observed each plant and commented on how nicely it was doing or discussed possible cures for an ailing bush. My grandmother, of course, has been gone for many years, and now I frequently hear my mother say, “You have to stop by now and see the blooms on my gardenia” or “My azaleas are so pretty this year–be sure and look at them when you pass”. “The Easter flowers (daffodils) are so pretty this year and I have so many kinds,” she would say as she delivered an arrangement of the same to grace the dining table at our home. And, on my daily stops I ooh and ah over each new bloom, just as I heard her doing so many years ago.

And, surprise of all surprises, there was I yesterday morning, picking out lantanas and some climbing miniature sunflower-like thing and an asparagus fern, and enjoying every minute of it. Perhaps some genetic plant-loving predisposition has lain dormant in me until I became appropriately mature and appreciative of the botanical world. And, appropriately mature and appreciative of my mother. Or perhaps I am, as I am told all daughters do, becoming my mother.

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It would be one of the best things that ever happened to me, for a more loving, beloved, and godly woman would be hard to find. I often hear it said that she has the sweetest and most loving and kind spirit. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, here’s to you Mom, a cutting of Aunt Georgia’s rubber plant repotted by your daughter, to grow in memory of your departed sister. Now, if it will only grow for me like it would for you! Nonetheless, I love you, more than you know.

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