Green Thumbs in The Garden

As the fourth anniversary of my mama’s passing approaches, I am filled with so many emotions, memories, thoughts and the relentless longing I now accept that I will always feel. I can post a trillion blogs about the very same sentiment and I will feel the exact same way on the trillionth that I felt on the first – and that is that I fucking miss her, I always will, I want her back and none of the above will ever be okay.

But that’s not what I wish to focus on as August 30th looms. I want to focus on a large piece of the beauty that was my mother and how she still exists for me, how as the late, great American poet, E.E. Cummings so elegantly wrote, “I carry (her) heart / I carry it in my heart.” *

My mama loved gardening – plants, vegetables, wildflowers, you name it – she had a green thumb to rival the greenest of thumbs. This morning, as I walked through my apartment watering my succulents, my rooting projects and my hanging devil’s ivy, I was filled with wonderful memories and the thought that my mama would be so proud of me.

When my mama was alive, I was hardly as enthusiastic as she probably would have liked for me to be when it came to receiving what she deemed, “the gardening tour” or just speaking garden speak in general. Perhaps it wasn’t so much a lack but that my enthusiasm just paled in comparison to my mother’s deep passion for plant life, for ending her days with the Earth lodged underneath her long fingernails. Upon arrival at my former home in Kansas City for a summer visit, she would be ever so anxious to show me the latest annual she planted surrounding the deck or the abundant growth of the wisteria I gifted her for her birthday when I was only eight.

A visit to nearby Family Tree Nursery was always in order and always fun. We would spend an hour or two perusing the green houses, smelling the heavenly scents of pretty flowers, shooing insects and traipsing through my mother’s nirvana. Often, we would leave empty handed as it was only an inspiration trip or simply, but profoundly a mother daughter bonding experience.

Mama posing in front of the bougainvillea, Los Angeles, 2010
Mama posing in front of the bougainvillea, Los Angeles, 2010

Her visits to Los Angeles would ignite that green spark in my mother’s thumb upon her realization that seasons don’t truly exist in southern California. Flowers that she could never imagine blooming in March in the Midwest were plentiful throughout “winter” here. She especially took a liking to the rich, colorful bougainvillea abound throughout the city, on every corner, every trellis and peaking over every fenced yard. During one of her visits in April of 2009, I took her to The Getty Museum’s spectacularly landscaped gardens – truly a work of art. This masterpiece oasis easily became one of her favorite places in Los Angeles.

Standing in front of the gardens at The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009
Standing in front of the gardens at The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2009

Green thumbs are unfortunately not genetic so I do my best but I have found that the older I get, the more enthusiastic I have become. People often ask, “How did you know that” after I identify a specific flower on one of my hikes or I see a particular, unique tree in someone’s front yard. And the answer is inevitably, “my mama.”

Mama doing what mama loves – gardening in front of her home in Shawnee, Kansas, 2009

* E.E. Cummings actually wrote, “I carry your heart / I carry it in my heart”  Words were parenthesized/altered for purposes of this blog.


4 thoughts on “Green Thumbs in The Garden

  1. You are such a wonderful writer. Your Moma said it was your calling. I had a fight with that wisteria bush on the day we learned…she would not recover. I love her. She lives in my heart forever. Love to you puppet.

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