Growing things

My dear son,

There are days – and today is one of them – when you never leave my mind. It seems that, no matter what I’m doing, thoughts of you overtake me, memories of you are crowded in my brain.

Today, for some reason I am remembering you and gardening. It’s funny, isn’t it? You were never the kind of person I thought of as a gardener, and were far more likely to have grease on your hands than dirt.

But I remember that day in late spring or early summer of 2018 when you were living in your motor home on Division St. You’d spent several days painting your lot number on the cement pylon, carefully getting it just right. You came over to the house with a package of assorted flower seeds to ask my advice on how to plant them. You wanted to make your home attractive and a pleasant place to be. I remember how excited you were, asking how to prepare the soil, did I think you’d gotten the right seeds, how long would it take for them to grow and bloom… oh, you were full of questions for me.

I gave you all of the information I could, you borrowed a few tools for planting, and off you went. From that day forward, you let me know almost every day how they were doing. You’d show me pictures on your phone of the tiny shoots erupting through the soil, and ask my advice on whether each one was a flower or a weed. And then one day, with the excitement of a small boy, you told me that some of them were blooming. A few days later you brought a photo as proof. You were so incredibly proud of them – and you knew for the first time, the real joy there is in seeing something you’d planted and tended bring a bit of color and beauty to your home.

I think that place and that time was the happiest you’d been in a long time. You felt independent and free. I was happy for you and thankful at the pride you were taking in the place you lived.

I’ve also been remembering how hard you worked, and how we worked so well together, to build my raised planters. Over the years you’d made things for me and helped with repairs, but when I asked you about building the planters I’d designed, I wasn’t sure you’d want to undertake the job. You weren’t only willing, you were eager! We spent untold hours at hardware stores and looking online for the things we needed, and when we finally had them all together, you carefully measured and cut the wood, and then produced your impact driver to put them together.

As you know, they work wonderfully well, and I love to tell people how I designed them and you built them. Despite your prediction – which came to pass – that the bottom wouldn’t bear the weight of the soil, we were very proud of the finished product. After the bottom did fall out of one of them and I’d gotten more lumber to brace the screening, you fortified them and we were back in business. I never look at them without remembering those days. Ben has promised to keep and use them after I’m no longer here. That’s just one of many ways you live on in this world. I am grateful for those tangible things you’ve left for me.

Thank you, my son, for these precious memories. Despite our arguments and our difficulties living together, you were always willing to help with my projects. I know we saw the worst in each other all too often, but we also had many times that we gave each other our best selves. I miss you so much and am thankful always that I am your mom.

I love you.

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