Today would have been his 71st birthday and so I celebrate by remembering with a poem I wrote for his Memorial.
My Father’s Garden
My father’s garden is planted deep with memories
A bountiful place overflowing with friends and family,
Who were blessed by love and laughter shared with him.
On Sylvia Street in Three Rivers,
He planted, weeded, watered and tended his garden,
It was an ever evolving place, just like Dad.
Quite often my thoughts carry me back
To quiet times spent together in his garden.
With two boisterous brothers around,
Having any time
Quiet or alone
With Dad was something really special.
In the springtime when he’d rake the rich brown soil,
Rocks clunking off the heavy metal tines,
I’d hear humming lawnmowers,
Birds chirping, a dog barking,
And my father’s rhythmic breathing.
I would listen to gentle lessons given
About how worms,
although I thought they were disgusting and gross,
Helped enrich and aerate the soil;
That sparkling days,
Full of cloudless blue skies,
Gentle breezes and glinting sunlight,
Were meant to be noticed and enjoyed,
Magnificent rainbows gave us pause
to wonder at this glorious gift of color
and light arching across the sky.
Sometimes when the sun was warm upon our backs
Dad would sing his own version of a popular John Denver song
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me sunburn,
Sunshine in my eyes can make me blind.
As a little girl I remember
Planting teen-tiny black radish seeds with my Daddy,
Who slowly poured them into my waiting hands.
He demonstrated how far apart to place them
And then carefully and with great concentration
I’d drop them into the furrow.
He’d sprinkle light, loose soil over future radishes
And then together from opposite ends
We’d pat down the cool brown earth,
His large hands meeting my much smaller ones
somewhere in the middle.
I ate sour rhubarb stalks dipped in crunchy sugar,
Picked and savored sweet sun ripened raspberries,
Crunched into hot radishes sprinkled with salt,
Tried and liked vegetables most kids would never touch.
All from my father’s garden.
He grew a variety of fruits and vegetables there.
Taught me, from his living example
About trial and error,
Sharing the bounty with neighbors, family and friends
Was as important to him as feeding and caring for us.
And one of the many unspoken lessons I learned.
I like to think of it as the Sylvia Street Symphony
It keeps playing on inside of me
Like perfect poetry.
Expressing just the right emotional notes,
Setting the scenery exactly where memory leads
Carrying me back to my father’s garden,
A place which grows on in all of us…