Mother's Day, Grandmas, and Gardening

May 15, 2017

Those of you who follow this blog know I don't usually get too personal.

Generally, I like to explore subjects that anyone can use.

This time, though, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you that occupied my headspace this Mother's Day.

I enjoyed Mother's Day from the mother side of it, as I have done for the past 30 years (my oldest and youngest child are, believe it or not, 20 years apart). And I had a wonderful time. It was absolutely beautiful. My little boys made me keepsakes. We went to brunch with my in-laws. Very nice, very thoughtful and very memorable.

 

At the brunch table my mother-in-law made an announcement. She said from now on she wanted to have a Mother's Day tradition that we remembered the mothers and grandparents in our families who have passed on. She shared a few lovely stories in memory of her mother and my husband's mother. Of course we all misted up.

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After my mother-in-law finished sharing, I spoke up almost without thinking. For some reason, my beloved paternal grandmother had come to mind.

So, too, had her garden.

When I recall Grandma, I can't help but remember all things food-related, both in the garden and the kitchen. Grandma was from "the old country" (it wasn't "old" because of its own antique roots but because she and my grandfather had separately left it behind, then serendipitously met in America). She grew. She canned. She skrimped, saved and stretched every penny even when she didn't need to.

The garden was, for Grandma, a given. When one could, one grew one's own food. It was simply a natural thing to her. Yet Grandma took gardening up a notch, way before gardening was trendy, kitschy and shabby-chic. She had an innate understand of plants, what they needed and when, and how to coax both yields and beauty out of any plant she touched.

And on very, very special days, she would allow me into "her" garden.

How I love those memories, wandering through Grandma's huge walk-through garden, picking what she told me was ready, learning patience from what wasn't.

This means that as with everything Grandma told to me, there was a lesson in there. I never forgot that and other gardening lessons from Grandma, some obvious (be patient; know when to water and when to hold back and not smother) and others more subtle (you can't force a plant to grow where it doesn't want to be; sometimes no matter how much care and attention you give, your efforts don't pan out - just move on).

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My grandmother passed away when I was just eight years old. There is so much I wish I'd been able to ask her about before she died, such as what life was really like in Poland and why she came to the U.S. I never did ask, and was largely estranged for a lifetime from my father, who divorced my mother just before my grandmother and grandfather died.

But Grandma gave me what she could, in every way she could. She gave me eight strong years of love and nurturing, of helping me tough some things out and cuddle our way through others.

Grandma planted seeds that have lasted me my whole life long until today, and, I trust, always will.

This Mother's Day, may you remember those women in your life, whether a mom, grandparent, aunt or simply a family friend - or perhaps even your own grown daughter who is now a mother herself - and think about what they've planted in YOUR garden simply by being there for you. Happy Mother's Day, my friends.




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