by Leigh C. Merrifield, Editor
I am a ‘saver’. I often read things that make me stop and think, and I put them aside and save them. I opened a ‘save’ folder recently and reread a few of the pieces I had stashed there. I chose one to share with you this week. The short story was three pages long, so I’ll have to condense it in my own words to repeat it because I don’t have that kind of room to spare, but I hope you, too, will find it worthy of giving some thought. The piece was composed by a 16-year old girl who learned a wonderful life lesson in the garden!
I think I’ll begin with this week’s dessert instead of putting it at the end. “Gardeners are good at nurturing; they are patient and tender.” ~ Author Unknown
We’ll call this young woman Sarah. She recalls that when she was little, she often helped her mother plant flowers every Spring. Her mother would be outside, squatting in the mud with a spade, seed packets, gardening gloves, and a secret smile that had hibernated all winter long. Sarah would kneel by her mother’s side and her mom taught her how to carefully dig holes and put the seeds into the earth. They spent hours repeating this process.
As Sarah grew up, she thought she found better ways to spend her time; doing things with her friends became more important. Mom never said anything, but Sarah noticed a kind of sadness in her mother’s eyes when helping in the garden was no longer quite as significant to her. Sarah recognized the disappointment on her mother’s face and felt a little guilty, but she did her own thing anyway. Before leaving, though, she would say she might try to be back early and she would help her then. That never happened; when she returned, she found her mom’s dirty boots by the back door along with a pile of empty seed packets. Oh, well ……………….
She didn’t think about it much until a couple of years later when one of her mom’s friends passed away. The woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and wasn’t given long to live. She left behind a husband and two children.
Sarah’s mom took off a couple of months later to visit this family and see how the children were coping with the loss of their mother. Right away, the kids showed Sarah’s mom the garden their mother had planted for them. When she had learned that doctors had no cure, she told her husband she wanted to leave something behind that her kids could hold on to and look at to remember her by. She had planted a lovely garden that would continue to bring color and fragrance into their lives in the years to come.
Spring had arrived and the garden was a masterpiece … a piece of this woman’s heart and soul that was in full bloom for her children! As Sarah listened to her mother tell this story, she pondered that time in her life when she was growing up and friends had been more important to her that kneeling in the garden with her mother. Her ‘food for thought’ brought her to this conclusion – planting time with her mom had not been about kneeling in the dirt and throwing in some seeds; it had been their togetherness. Their moments together were creating beautiful memories. Sarah understood now that the pain she had seen in her mother’s eyes that day several years ago had come from missing the little girl who was once always at her side and how she would have to let her spread her wings and fly. Suddenly, Sarah realized just how blessed she was to have had so many occasions when her caring mother’s soft hands would place seeds in her hands and teach her the beauty of helping things grow.
After this realization … each time Spring came and she knew that planting time was near, Sarah threw on her old jeans and a t-shirt and rushed outside to plant with her mom. It was one of those “Thank you, God” moments. The sun’s radiance couldn’t begin to compare to the brilliant smile on her mother’s face when Sarah joined her in the dirt! Sarah’s tears were the first drops of water the seeds felt! Together, they worked all day planting seeds and making memories. Sarah vowed to NEVER miss another planting day in the garden by her mother’s side.
…. Just a little ‘food for thought’ …. Even the smallest tender moments sometimes mean the most.