This Mother’s Day, as I reflect on some of our favorite family memories, my mind is brought back to our family garden. Similar to growing a family and leaving a legacy that continues to flourish, the same love, patience, and hard work is required to grow a peaceful and blooming garden. It amazes me how much effort it takes to grow a thriving garden. You need someone who is committed to nurturing it, putting in the time, and who truly loves the process.
Every spring and summer, my mom made it a point to grow our sunflower garden with us. It took time and work for her to start this tradition. Without seeing the results or knowing how the garden would turn out, she would shop for the seeds and the soil. In the heat of the Arizona sun, my dad would till the hard, stubborn ground that would refuse to break.
Initially, she started it with my older brother when he was six years old. In his velcro sneakers, he would eagerly help my mom carry the heavy bags of soil to the garden, pick out the seeds and tuck them gently into the earth. Being too little to do much, I would follow behind and help Adam drop the big sunflower seeds in the little holes that Adam and my mom would make.
Early every morning, my mom would go out and water the little garden. It was mundane, and yet it was crucial to the life of the little sprouting seeds.
It was a simple, humble garden that was well loved. And every summer the sunflowers would stretch tall and proud as if to say thank you for all the heartfelt love and care they had received in the spring.
Over the years, I became more and more involved in helping with the garden. I would plant the flowers in the pots around the garden bed. In the same way Adam used to, I would poke small holes in straight lines in the soil for little Caitee to follow behind in her sweet toddler sundress and drop the seeds in.
Adam’s role in the garden changed too. He now independently would do the heavy lifting of the soil and help move around potted flowers. Now, tall and strong enough he would help Dad till the rough soil. He also planted a small stem of a vine in the back corner and hoped one day it would flourish.
Early every morning, my mom would water the garden. It took time, but the garden grew tall again this year.
As our family grew, our garden grew and changed too. Daniel would follow behind Caitee in the garden planting the sunflower seeds. And Caitee brought her own love for little critters and birds into the garden. She brought bird houses and seeds to help love and care for all these garden creatures. It brought fresh life and new peace to our garden.
By the time Daniel was 11 our garden was flourishing. We each had taught the one younger than us our roles and took on new ones for ourselves. Leaving that legacy behind us, we each took on an opportunity to create something new and even more beautiful. Each of us brought our own unique ways of adding to the garden. After awhile our humble garden bed took over the back yard.
Mom having given her original role of sunflowers to us and planted roses bushes along the back wall. Adam’s vine flourished. He and my Dad helped to build new garden beds, where I decided to add herbs and vegetables to the garden. Caitee planted flowers in pots all over the garden and back yard. And Daniel continued to plant the sunflowers and lift the heavy soil and pots, just as Adam had done when he was 11. We added woodchips all around the garden to nurture the soil around it.
Now, we can sit in the midst of our backyard with the fresh smell of the roses and wood chips, the beauty of the tall sunflowers, and the vine crawling throughout the garden before us. The birds gently perch themselves around the flowers and kindly chirp to each other. My personal favorite part, seeing everyone’s individual personalities shine through their hard work.
Thank you for helping our family and garden grow. Thank you for teaching us how to love, care, and generously give to each other, by way of our garden. We are grateful for you helping each one of us to find our own unique gifts and ways we can bring something new and beautiful to life. And thank you for waking up early every morning to water the garden and care and nurture us, even when it feels mundane. When everyone else has finished their work, you press on. You are creating a legacy of peace, joy, love, hard work, and commitment that is flourishing and I am proud to be a part of it.