He gave up his hippie acreage with gardens to move into the middle of the city with me and my
children. There he planted tulips and tomatoes anew. When the kids were grown and we moved
from house to apartment, he grew kale in raised beds on the rooftop and raspberries and
pumpkins in the country. He spent one summer managing a community garden for fun. John
always grew a garden.
He took breaks from digging and watering to sit and savor the multitude of shades of green. I’d
willingly weed nonstop in the Nebraska heat I’d grown up with. I completed chores, crossing
them off my list without noticing the blossoms on the zucchini. I never had much patience for
planting and preferred picking the flowers to have something to show for my hard work.
After the cancer diagnosis, John grew wheatgrass to heal himself and others. In a small room
with windows on three sides he soaked seeds in Mason jars, fed them fertilized soil and filtered
water, and played Mozart for their health and happiness. In his final summer, his withering limbs
could no longer make the daily trek to his garden. John left the earth he treasured in September
ten years ago.
When I asked him what he thought he would miss most about his time as a human he said, “The
When the pandemic hit, I found myself irresistibly drawn to the respite of a neglected garden at
my high school of lifetimes ago. Each day, alongside my life partner and love Kevin, I knelt on
the earth. I dug out the deep roots of burdock. I pulled unending invasive chives and prickly
prairie rose. I commented on each worm and celebrated every ladybug. I planted a hundred
By the following spring, the pair of redbuds showed their stunning pink style and fragrant
honeysuckle climbed up the newly built arbor. A small bridge graced the pond between the
poppies and the columbine. Robins and squirrels and butterflies returned.
While John would be heartbroken by daily news of horrific hurricanes and raging fires, I imagine
him admiring the harvest of what he planted in our vegetable-eating children throughout his
Penelope growing from a loving mother to grandmother to his five great grandchildren.
Benjamin sowing seeds along the spiritual path John helped unearth.
Marisa tenderly nurturing profoundly disabled children.
Jack loving the earth so much he left lawyering to be closer to it.
Melanie devotedly caring for a husband living with a diagnosis as grave as her dad’s.
John grew a beautiful garden. I hope to help do the same in my seasons ahead, now that
I’ve taken some time to grow myself.
Have you learned from observing others who are different than you?
What seeds are you planting?
How do you hope to grow in your seasons ahead?