This weekend we had one of those lovely pre-summer storms. The kind where rain blows in by the sheets. The next day wasn’t unbearably sunny or warm so the moisture soaked into the ground just perfectly. I decided this evening to go out and dig up the ground for my garden, since the ground was nice and soft.
It was prime for digging. The ground was rich and very inviting, my shovel glided through the dirt nearly effortlessly.
Isabella declared that she too, would dig a garden and joined me wielding a child-sized hoe. I dug up the sod, and she came behind me to hoe the earth until it was smooth. We worked together like that, dripping sweat and content with our labor. A team, she called us.
Isabella chattered the entire time. I heard about her friends, her school, her bike wreck boo-boos, things she thought were funny and things she wanted to grow, the tomato plant she’s been nurturing, her rock collection, the neighbors dog, you name it. Together we giggled and chatted like that for over an hour, with the only interruptions being the occasional chip of my shovel meeting a rock.
The nostalgia was thick for me. At exactly her age I dug my own first garden, I too chattered my mothers ear off while she worked the earth at my childhood home. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories. Probably because it’s one of the few times my mother and I were a unit. We worked together doing something we, and only we, both loved to do. It was a common ground that I alone shared with her. I eagerly learned everything she had to teach, likely the very things she had learned from my grandfather, who was also an avid gardener. These are those good memories that I’ve learned to cling to during the times of upset. These were times before things got difficult. Stresses of college tuitions and family crisis hadn’t yet piled high on her and my dad’s shoulders. I was still just a carefree freckled faced girl and she was my silly mom who was prone to accidentally singing show tunes at the post office.
I didn’t realize it then, but I do now, that this was her love language.
When she used her valuable evening daylight to sit by me and teach me how to plant my cosmos and zinnias, she was telling me she loved me in her own way. When she didn’t bat at eye when I came in with my good clothes smudged from head the toe in dirt because I’d been weeding my garden, she was telling me she understood what was more important. When she hauled the waterhose across our big farmhouse yard to water my parched little plot, because a certain little girl had been too busy climbing trees to remember to water her flower bed, she was telling me she’ll take care of me.
It’s been a tough year. I thought about these things the entire time I was outside with my own freckled face girl. I let her stay up until the very last drop of light was out of the sky. She got in bed an hour late on a school night and that’s ok. I nuzzled her frazzled french braids and hugged her a little tighter when I tucked her in.
Often times we get so caught up in our hurts and our tough situations, that we forget that things weren’t always this way. It doesn’t justify it, or make it ok to hurt the ones you love, but it’s more important than ever to find those good memories and let them take root in your soul. Cling to those lest you become embittered. Hold dear what you can with an iron fist, love from afar if you must…but love nonetheless.