Posts Tagged ‘Children’

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.”

Cathy