Dad, My Favorite Gardener. How many people can call their favorite gardener, Dad? A gardener in so many ways, he was more than just your average guy. Dad was a man who was thoughtful, firmly kind and always desired that we be the best we could be in whatever we chose to be.
Dad wanted me to “be a lady” so he reinforced the seeds of genteelness that my Mom sowed into my life. When he was fertilizing the hydrangeas to change the color or pruning the roses, I had to stand back and listen – instead of helping. Dad said “This is not something a Lady should do. You can water when I am done.” I was not amused, to say the least. In my mind, I just knew that one day, I would be fertilizing and pruning in my own garden. One day I would know more. I would understand the techniques and the dynamics behind it. I was expected to be good at whatever I chose to do.
My Mom would say, “Take Care of your Father when I am gone” and we did. Afterall, we honored Our Mom (our parents) and would not think of letting her (them) down.
Dad was a Minister as well as a teacher, and definitely lived what he preached. Sowing seeds of wisdom and his knowledge of the Bible enhanced the lives of many he met along his life journey. In Churches from DC to Maryland, Dad sowed words that continue to linger in the heart and souls of many who knew him. Among his words to us, “Give me my flowers while I can enjoy them”….and that we did. From Orchids to Freesia to mixed bouquets, there was almost never a time when we did not shower my Dad with flowers to enjoy no matter the season.
Dad’s birthday was like a National holiday to us. Everything just stopped in our world. Proud to be a Navy Seabee, we made certain that his birthday cake reflected this achievement. Anything to make him feel and know how special WE felt to have him in our lives. To be able to call him Dad was a privilege.
It has been officially a year. As we have spent this year closing down my parent’s house and preparing it for sale, I have realized so many things. Reflecting on time spent while tending his garden, I am more like him than I ever knew.
Dad’s tools are now mine. From the pictures, sketches, and projects he was so proud of, his Tithonia seeds, garden notes, and Mantis tiller are now all mine. While digging up some of the plants, reseeding the lawn, raking up the leaves and sharing the mums he left behind, I realized I had been quiet. I was not writing, nor was I doing or being the best that I could be. I had been feeling kind of lost without my Dad, especially as Autumn neared.
Autumn was the perfect time to shop for more Mums or sit outside in the carport and reflect on the season’s successes and failures. That conversation did not happen this year. There was no longer a way to deny the void was real. In year’s past, after every MANTS, every Flower Show, after every garden journey, I rushed over to see my Dad. I had to share what was new and exciting. Listening eagerly, he would adorn his head with whatever garden related baseball cap I brought him.
In turn, he shared with me what was going to be planted in the pots along the front for the year. Always sharing what he was going to order, he pulled from the stacks of catalogs in his “Garden Office”. His “Garden Office” was the chair beside “his” chair in the kitchen. Starting in early December, the “Garden Office” was filled with the sticky note, page folded catalogs. Easily accessible, right next to his Bible and his blood pressure monitor, Dad was always eager to show me something new.
I miss my parent’s. My Mom, my favorite seamstress and I miss my favorite gardener, my Dad. Life goes on and I must continue to honor them by being the best I can be. To be given the gift of working with my hands has been the best gift ever!
Today I honor my Dad…RIP (I know you are both watching!)