I received a gift from a dear friend: I was asked to be a guest blogger on her site. What a privilege! What a compliment! To have someone think I have something worthwhile to say! Thank you, Sparkles. Love, Ms. Florida.
I’m standing in my front yard, pondering the plants I’ve helped to grow. Here’s my flower garden, a little neglected, but still lovely. There’s the dragonfly habitat I put in last fall, with the horsetail grass and Medusa grass that makes me smile when I look at it because it reminds me of the plants I played with when I was a little girl in Michigan.
I hope the dragonflies discover this and make it their home. They will especially like the tall horsetail to land on, according to the man at the nursery.
There’s the magnolia tree that I didn’t plant, but have enjoyed since it was a sapling, and look forward every spring to its blossoms. There is the border grass that I planted and trim each fall. There are the blueberry bushes that I keep relocating to different places in the yard, hoping and hoping that they will be happy and bountiful where I plant them, and that I will beat the mockingbird to at least a handful of their berries. I have spent many Saturday mornings—early before it gets too hot to work—on my knees weeding that garden. I have watered it, worried about frost killing it, and picked blossoms to enjoy in a vase inside. One time, when the Milkweed was in bloom, I stood beside it and watered, wearing a floral-print jacket—I hadn’t yet changed from work. A butterfly fluttered around the milkweed, and then got a little distracted by my jacket, and alit on me! I ponder all those plants now, and I am deeply satisfied by what I see. I look forward to getting back into the yard and onto my knees to prune back the dead parts so that the new growth can spring up strong. It is deeply satisfying to enjoy the flowers of my labor. Where does this sense of satisfaction come from? I think it’s from the labor that went into making something beautiful.
It was Flowery Girl who told me four years ago, when we had been in our house for a couple of years, that I needed to start gardening again. What do you mean? I asked. She said, ‘You always plant flowers in the yard, and it makes you happy.’ She was right; I had been working too hard, and losing sight of joy. So I started planting flowers. …………………………
…………Just now, about an hour ago, I said good-bye my soon-to-be-22-year-old-daughter, Flowery Girl. We grocery shopped together for her birthday meal, then she and I headed our separate ways: her to her apartment, and me to this yard. She will come over tomorrow and cook with me, and we will eat together when her friends get here. It is deeply satisfying to study the flowers that I’ve planted in my yard, but it is ever-more-deeply-satisfying to look at that lovely young woman and see the independent, gracious, happy person that she has become. I did not plant her, but I did weed her a bit, I have watered her at the beach or in our yard on hot summer afternoons; in fact I have a favorite picture of her at 4 years old, playing in the sprinkler. She with her floral print bathing suit on, straddling the sprinkler with her hands on her hips as if to say, ‘I’ve conquered this one!’ And now I am enjoying the blossoms of her daily calls to me; I let her words flow over me as she expounds the details of her day. I have worried about her—the frost that will come to her as it comes to every person makes me sad. She is a young sapling, but she is strong. The hurricane-force winds of divorce have blown her around, and nearly knocked her down, but she is strong, and she is standing straight and smiling beautifully.
And I have loved her! I still savor the days of holding her infant body close to me, and putting her as a toddler on my lap as I read to her, putting her in the bathtub with oatmeal when she broke out with hives and couldn’t bear the itching, teaching her to read on the front porch while waiting for her Kindergarten bus to pick her up, buying her pretty dresses, buying her a laptop for a high school graduation gift, and driving her to college. Most of the time, I stood back and watched as she made decisions and went forth with bravado. You see, I tried to give her the gift that my parents gave to me: the gift of being a parent who does not meddle. I wouldn’t dare say that I was perfect at it—you see, I’m a worrier, and so I have to meddle just a touch. Without my permission, words slip out of my mouth such as, ‘Are you sure about that?’ ‘Do you really think that’s a good idea?’ ‘ I think you should…….’ But I tried my best to pass on that gift to her and to her siblings—the gift that says ‘You are perfectly suited to make your own decisions according to your judgment for your 5-year-oldness, or your 22-year-oldness, without my help.’ As I said, I tried with a limited amount of success. But let me tell you what: it is the best to see my kids have become Frickin Fabulous Young Adults in spite of my parenting. So I can’t say I’m proud of myself at all. I’m proud of them!!! And I am amazed by them. So, Flowery Girl, on the eve of your 22nd birthday, let me just say that you have made my life more beautiful by breathing yourself into it.
You and I will continue to sing the song that moms and their daughters have sung for a very long time. Sometimes the tune is jazzy, and sometimes it’s rap. But the harmony that you and I make together is more sonorous than you or I could have created separately. Here’s to many more years of enjoying each other in our garden of music!