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Mother's Garden

My mother loved her garden. She could be found most days nurturing every plant in her vegetable garden and her flower beds. She would often come home and drop her purse and keys on the back steps of our brick ranch-styled house that my father built and pick up the garden hoe, after working a full 8 hours on her feet as a supervisor at the J.M. Fields Department store’s cafeteria.

She would chop weeds with that long-handled hoe like she was killing the devil. Still dressed in her white starched button down dress and rubber-soled shoes, she’d move from the small backyard vegetable garden where she had planted greens, onions, squash, tomatoes, okra, sweet and hot peppers, thyme, oregano, sage and basil, depending on the time of year, to the flower beds lovingly planted all around the house.

I can still see her “deadheading” spent flower buds. Deadheading is the process of plucking the dead buds from the bush to allow the flower bush to get all the nutrients needed to produce new buds.

As the sun lowered, I often heard my mom talking underneath the windows of the house where she had planted daylilies, zinnias, and roses, mixed in with pink azaleas, blue hydrangeas and white camellia bushes. I thought it was strange to hear her talking with no one there. “Is she talking to the flowers?” I thought. I’d quietly try to listen to what she was saying, but I could only make out a few words here and there. Years later, I realized that she was praying, just having a conversation with God as she moved under each bedroom window. She was praying for us, her family.

Once she was finished and the sun began to set, she’d come inside take her bath and then sit in her favorite chair in the kitchen and eat the plate of food that I had kept warm in the oven for her. My dad did most of the cooking at home, breakfast and dinner. I would clean the kitchen (dad fried everything, so flour and grease was everywhere).

Mom’s nightly routine included smearing Oil of Olay over her face and neck and reading a few passage of scripture before watching the 11 o’clock news.

During times of uncertainty, my mind goes back to my mom’s prayers and her daily diligence to remain in touch with her source of strength. I want to encourage you to get in touch with your source of strength and develop a practice of prayer, and who knows you may even develop a beautiful garden mixed with love and grace.

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