We all have memories of our childhood. Good memories and bad memories. Although hopefully more good than bad.
Sometimes the way we remember things is very different from what really happened. Over the years our memories become muddled, distorted, enlarged, minimized, twisted, or enhanced.
But the memories are ours to keep and ours to remember….however we may.
They connect our past and our present.
They make the events of today more meaningful in some ways that cannot always be explained or understood.
The past two weeks we’ve watched our Little Garden That Could grow and grow. After a run in with a pesky chipmunk, I decided to expand the garden and add some new plants that my friend gave me.
Each day I go out to the garden. I look at it. I smile.
Sometimes I pull some itty bitty weeds.
Sometimes I go around the perimeter and identify each plant and note its progress.
I study the leaves.
I look for new developments.
I push the dirt around and fill in the holes that stinking chipmunk has left behind.
I take pictures and send them to the kids when they are not home.
Every time I go in my bedroom, I can’t help but look out the window at the backyard and admire the progress.
I am not sure why I get such joy out of the garden.
Perhaps it is because of the memories I have of not one, but two dads, a grandpa and gardens.
Every time I am in the garden I am reminded of my stepdad’s giant garden when I was little. It was out back, behind the shed and by the sandbox.
Preparing the kids for what lies ahead, I have told them at least a half a dozen times how it was my job to pick the vegetables. I used to go out before dinner and pick the vegetables he “ordered”….a bowl full of cherry tomatoes, two green peppers, the biggest tomato I could find…
I don’t remember him specifically working in the garden. I am not sure when that work was done. But I do remember him cooking out, slicing tomatoes, and making the best BBQ burgers on the grill.
not liking hating stuffed peppers. Not even wanting to eat the insides because that green pepper flavor tainted the rice mixture.
I remember the sprinkler in the garden. It threw a spray of water on the swing set and if you timed it just right it was like swinging in the rain.
And then there was my dad. He didn’t have a garden. Although he often tells the funny story of my stepmom wanting a giant garden, planting it, and then letting the weeds take over for the entire summer. Until one day, she walks into the garden and hollers, “There’s vegetables in here” as if she forgot she ever planted them.
But my dad’s dad….he had a huge garden. My dad took us there every Tuesday to visit and in the early days of my childhood, when my grandma and grandpa were younger, I remember walking around the perimeter of the garden.
Grandpa would have us identify each plant and note its progress.
I remember the nets he placed over the strawberry plants to keep away the pesky birds.
I remember the green hedges that bordered the garden on three sides…where little bunnies would dart out and startle us.
I remember the giant cherry tree that he covered with a gigantic net and how my dad would hold us up so we could pick the cherries. We’d reach high up in the net and pluck the cherries that were not stolen by the birds.
Sometimes we’d pick some vegetables and put them in wooden baskets and take them to grandma who was waiting on the front porch.
And then she would tell us it was time for Wheel of Fortune or ask us if we wanted to play Uno at the kitchen table.
These are my memories..the ones that flood me when I am working in the garden.
The ones that bring me joy.
They connect my past and present.
And as we watch this garden grow this summer, so will the memories.
Last night we went to a 50th birthday party for a new friend of ours. It was on a private lake and although we didn’t really know what to expect, the kids had an awesome time. The sunset, the docks, the lily pads…all made for some great pictures.
We got to go out on the pontoon boat which Tweedle Ian was all nervous about a first. After a pep talk and a $1 bribe he got on the boat and within two minutes he was over the nerves and up on his knees looking over the edge watching Captain Kidd fish.
And then two minutes after that he was our captain. The lady who owned the boat let him drive it around (with a little help from her boyfriend). Ian was so proud and having the time of his life. He drove the boat for at least 45 minutes around the entire perimeter of the lake.
When we got back to the dock we let the boys fish for a few more minutes before I started prepping them for the idea of a departure (a 5 minute warning is always best). Ian says right away in a grumpy voice, “Are we ever going to get to come back here?”
Like me, he dreads good times coming to an end. I get a panicky feeling when an evening or weekend is closing and I will have to part ways. I feel this need to hang on to the moment as long as I can and never let it end. It’s hard to be having the time of your life and all of a sudden the clocks strikes midnight and your fairy godmother (or your pesky mom) is telling you the party is over.
What I often forget and what a 9-year-old doesn’t yet understand is that all good things must come to an end….a great school year, beach vacations, birthday parties, play dates and date nights, weekend get-aways, even a regular old summer night when you’ve played hard all day and are still running around catching lightning bugs in the dark.
Every day ends at some point. Bedtime always comes – like it or not. But don’t be sad. The memories (and pictures) will remain. Tomorrow is a brand new day.