My Mother’s Garden

Mom’s vegetable and flower gardens grow along the banks of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. For many years they drove me crazy. Why? She would just let anything that took root grow, amid her tomatoes a stray poppy would bloom, crooked rows because something was growing and she wanted to see what would sprout. Flowering weeds that even the neighbors tease her about, struggling for life among the lettuce.

“Let it grow, I want to see what comes up.” A common mantra when I wanted to tidy the gardens and pull what I thought didn’t belong.

Mom raised 6 kids in a time when Moms stayed home and Dads went to work. We lived on a street with similar families, the Jones family had 9 kids, the Connors 12, the Rutkowskies had a small family with just 3. A yellow brick house on a red brick street. Simple rules, be home when the street lights come on, look both ways when crossing the street, don’t litter, treat adults with respect, take care of your neighbors, don’t take what is not yours, rules enforced by all the Moms.

Visiting this summer I noticed the vegetable garden, too much for an 80 year old woman to tend, overgrown and abandoned, fertile soil still producing cherry tomatoes and spinach enjoyed by the deer and other small herbivores. Century old apple, black walnut and pear trees dropping fruit she rakes for the animals to enjoy. Her flower gardens envelope the house, miniature roses, day lilies and daisies, poppies and flowering weeds allowed to grow, their deaths rejuvenating the soil for the next generation.

It has taken 54 years of life to understand my Mother, she raised her children just as her gardens, each individual, sprouting among humanity, different from the rest. We were given the necessities of life, food, sun, water, love. At times maybe a stick to hold us upright, just long enough to grow straight and develop roots to stand tall. We were fertilized with basic education, values that put people above things, and a clear understanding that we had to stand on our own two feet.

“Let them grow, I want to see what comes up.”


11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Arleen Girotti on December 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Brought tears to my eyes-the coast is bringing out the best in you my sister -I love you !!


  2. Thanks Arleen, this story took me a long time to write, 54 years 🙂


  3. Posted by Gail Watson on December 31, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Cathy, I loved what you wrote! It’s awesome. What a wonderful way to grow up. But it’s the way you wrote about it that’s the best. Thank you.


  4. Posted by kathy Pektas(inklovich) on December 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Kathy, so well written and so well lived. I am so honorer to have been a part of all of your lives. Your father and mother have had good times around the fire. Moms apple pie weighing in at probably 10 pounds, was the best.
    I have recently called on two friends to wish them a happy holiday only to find that they had passed only a month or days of my calling. I remember the happiness all have given to my and Ray and Jer’s life. You are all such a part and Ray passed away on New Years day 2010. Let it grow and lets see what comes up is priceless. You have a heart and soul that conveys all of what we as humans desire…the frog on the rock, mom in the innertube, all of it. Moms garden will grow forever. thanks for ya all!


  5. Wow. Thank you, and Happy New Year for us all. 8^)


  6. Posted by Tom Walney on January 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Cathy,
    Hope you had a nice Christmas And New Years! I liked your new post a whole bunch. I also printed it out and sent it to your mom. She loved it and said you are a beautiful writer and that you should write a book! Get on it girl! Take care out there!!

    Your friend Tom


  7. Posted by Janet Barton on January 5, 2012 at 10:48 am



  8. I do not even know how I stopped up right here, however I thought this put up was once great. I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger for those who are not already. Cheers!


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