The ground of my garden was hard and rocky as I approached it Sunday afternoon, my hoe in hand. Although I have a very strong and willing husband, who had offered his hand at the tilling, and I would only have to drive three minutes to rent a tiller, this is something I wanted to do myself, by hand. I needed the exercise and to clear my mind. During the past few weeks, well, actually since they day they left the earth, I have been missing my grandparents more and more. I look around at the world and how different it is from when they were my age. At 24, they all would have been performing hard, manual labor each day just to be able to enjoy a warm house, three meals, and clean clothes. Sometimes I wish I would have been 24 in 1937, like Grandma Donna, although she would tell me I was crazy for such a wish. I want to be able to fully appreciate the hard work they did to get through daily tasks, that are merely menial chores now. In an effort to gain even the slightest understanding, I chose my hoe and my small hands, over my husbands strong arms or a gasoline tiller.
While I worked the soil, I thought back to some of my fondest memories of my grandparents. As a young girl in the garden, my mother’s mother, Grandma Donna would let me hoe off by the edge, (where I didn’t have any chance of killing her plants) while she dug around in the dirt or cleaned up after me. I learned so much from my grandmother during times like these, when few words were spoken but I watched her every move. A woman who had lived through the depression on a farm, then married a farmer, and raised her sons to be farmers. She didn’t waste anything because she knew of the hard work that had created it. She knew of the harshness of the world, but cared lovingly for the earth, anyways. Although she moved more slowly than she used to, she was by no means pokey. She moved with purpose, whether it was in the garden or in the kitchen, she had the efficiency of a machine.
That farmer she married, Grandpa Chet, worked relentlessly through the years as he grew and expanded his farm to support his family. Cattle, hogs, corn, beans, and hay were the only things still farmed by the time I came around, but before that there had been chickens, vegetable gardens, and a pony for their youngest child, my mother. I used to go to the back fence and hang by my fingertips, as I watched Grandpa feed the cattle. I’d laugh and moo at the cows as they came running in, just to eat some dry looking, grain-stuff. Grandpa Chet was a gentle man with a gruff voice, and a wonderful sense of humor that used to get me in trouble because I’d get all worked up and wouldn’t know when to stop. Not much has changed, I still moo at cattle and get all worked up and don’t know when to stop…I’m sure he’d be proud of that.
My father’s, father, Devon, was a master gardener. When I picture his garden, I see jet black soil with row after row of gorgeous vegetables that have been painstakingly brought to life by the hands of a true gardener. He didn’t just have a green thumb, he had a green index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger. Although his hands were a little shaky in his later years, the vegetables didn’t mind, those hands were no less capable than the hands that has been caring for that garden for years. The same hands that had taught five children and multiple grandchildren to love the land in return for it’s bounty. The same hands that came together for a big “CLAP” each time I met Grandpa at the front door to his home as he said “THERE’S MY GIRL!”
My Grandma Ellen passed away when I was only six. I remember very clearly my dad gathering us all around to tell us one evening, I was wearing a blue Mickey Mouse sweat suit with lime green letters. He told us she had passed away, and looked around for reactions. My older sister cried, Cory stared and blinked his eyes, just like he still does a troubling news, with Ross being three and Grant a baby, they weren’t old enough to fully understand yet. I just remember staring at everyone, wondering what I should do. I thought, “I am a girl, I should cry,” but I couldn’t. When Mom asked how I felt I told her “I am really sad…but I can’t cry,” she reassured me that it was okay and that I could feel however I wanted to. I relived this whole experience Sunday, as I pounded at the dirt with tears welling up in my eyes. I think if I had known her more, if I could remember more, I would be a better person. She was a woman of honesty, graciousness, service, and she only spoke kind words. I remember sitting in her lap and feeling totally accepted as a person, no matter how I got carried away or how rough I played. Sitting next to her at the piano as she played, looking at her beloved pictures of her family, I knew it was okay to just be me. I couldn’t read her music, but I could pick up on the notes she was playing and that made her oh, so happy. I tried for years to like playing the piano, but it just never stuck, but for her, I will never stop using my voice.
With Grandma’s Donna’s deliberate motion, Grandpas Dee’s strong hands, Grandpa Chet’s persistence and Grandma Ellen’s song in my heart, I tilled my garden by hand, as I thought of the hundreds of times they had done the same job. I felt the wind in my face as the sweat beaded up on my neck and I tilled with all my might, for them. I then got on my hands and knees and carefully planted each seed, for them. I watered the seeds carefully, as to not wash them away, for them. Life’s daily tasks are so much more meaningful when we do them with a purpose in our heart.
Today, let your purpose be your health. Cook a meal using whole ingredients because your family needs real nourishment. Get in a good Workout because your body needs real exercise. Take a moment for YOURSELF because you deserve a life of enjoyment. Happy Monday.