Skip to main content

Grandpa's Garden

This post is adapted from a journal entry for a class I'm taking this fall at Drew Theological School, Christianity and Ecology with Dr. Laurel Kearns, as I start my PhD program.

The Drew Theo Community Garden

I promise all of my journal reflections and other writing for this class won't be about my Grandpa, but he's been on my mind a lot lately. It was just the anniversary of his death, which happened when I was an undergraduate student. I had spent most of the summer visiting him everyday because I managed to get a job just down the street from where my grandparents lived.

My Grandpa was very ill for the last couple of years of his life, so the summer before he died I was gardening in his yard on my own, without his guidance. I felt very inadequate to do it without him there, guiding me. My vegetables did not turn out well that season, but the flowers I planted just bloomed and bloomed and bloomed. Everyday I was able to cut a bouquet of flowers for him and bring it in and set on his bed stand. I felt like the garden was blooming for him.
Summer came to a close, and I had found myself wishing all summer that he would die before I had to go back to school. It sounds like a strange thing to wish for, but by that time it was very evident that he was near the end of his life, and I really wanted to be there along with the rest of my family when he died. But, he's a stubborn thing, and he did not comply with my wishes! Instead, he died in the short interval between when I returned to school to get settled in for the semester and the beginning of classes. This was right at the start of my second year in college. At the time, my family was very strapped financially. I was going to school in Ohio, and it was extremely cost prohibitive for me to come home for the funeral. They would have made it happen if I had pushed it, but I knew how much it would set my whole family back to fly me home and get me back to school again. We decided I would not attend.

Grandpa's Garden, October 1998. 
So, my mourning was a strange "suspended" thing. I came home for the first time in October, and I remember walking through the house where my grandfather had lived for my whole life, for decades, and finding it so strange that he was not there. I took some time to go out to the garden by myself, and I found such a surprise blessing: Flowers were still blooming. Everything was overgrown and looked so unkempt and so ignored, but there were so many flowers. I cut a whole mess of them. I took a "selfie", back in the days when I had to do that with an actual camera. It's not a great picture, but I have kept it all these years because it reminds me of that trip to the garden.
October, 1998. 

As I sit here at the Drew Theo Community Garden while I watch it being watered, and I see how it's a bit overgrown and unkempt (since students have been mostly absent because of Covid-19), I can't help but think of that season in my life, and Grandpa's garden, and flowers that bloom sometimes in spite of us and sometimes because of us and sometimes just because that's what flowers do. Bloom. Life and the weeds and tangles and messes. Life in the midst of death.


Mom said…
So very beautiful...touched my heart and soul. Love you so much!
Bill Mudge said…
Powerful memories - powerful love in a broken vessel.
He is and always was proud of you! I love you too. UB
Beth Quick said…
Thanks Momioles, thanks UB. Love you both!
sueb said…
Beautiful memory thank you for sharing it.

Popular posts from this blog

A Sung Communion Liturgy for Christmas Eve

A Sung Communion Liturgy for Christmas Eve (Tune: GREENSLEEVES)
Lift up your hearts unto the Lord. Sing unto God your praises. We gather on this holy night. We gather at this table.   Lift, lift your hearts up high! Sing praise to God, and glorify! Praise, praise, the Prince of Peace, the Babe, the Son of Mary.
God breathed in us the breath of life. God gave the gift of Eden. We turned away and sin was born; We sought for greener gardens. Lift, lift your hearts up high! Sing praise to God, and glorify! Praise, praise, the Prince of Peace, the Babe, the Son of Mary.
God called to us from age to age through messengers and prophets, When we would not our hearts give way, the Word-made-flesh God sent us. This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste to bring him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary.
O Holy God of power and might! Hosanna in excelsis! Blessed be the one who in your name comes! Hosanna in the highest! This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds gu…

Sermon for Second Sunday in Advent, "Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright," Isaiah 11:1-10, Mark 13:24-37

Sermon 12/3/17 Mark 13:24-37, Isaiah 11:1-10

Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright

            “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon’ virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”             This week, I read news stories about North Korea testing a missile that perhaps could reach across the whole of the United States.             This week, I spoke with a colleague in ministry who had, like all churches in our conference, received from our church insurance company information about how to respond in an active shooter situation. She was trying to figure out how to respond to anxious parishioners and yet not get caught up in spending all of their ministry time on creating safety plans.             This week, we’ve continued to hear stories from people who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, as the actions, sometimes over decades, of men in positions of power have been uncovered.            …