2021: G – April A to Z: Mama in Photos…
Gardening with Mama
I’m back for my sixth year (2021)… can you believe it… of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and I’ve had quite a time in deciding on my “theme.” I had a few running through my head, but after losing my mother last November, I thought I’d honor her through the many photographs I have… and tell the story of the photograph… as every photo has a story.
I’m fortunate that my mother had many photos of herself growing up… and I’m honoring her this year as the theme of my April A to Z… especially as was she was an April baby. Mama would have turned 91 this year… but she’s now back home celebrating this birthday with her parents and brother on the farm… where I believe she was always the happiest. The past few years my mother was fighting off dementia, while still managing to live alone until the last couple months of her life. I miss her every day… thinking and remembering all she did for me. She was the storyteller… She supplied me with my stories… and it’s because of her, that I write!
G… Gardening with Mama
Mama adjusting a metal butterfly next to the butterfly sign I made her… every time I came I always brought something for her garden as she never wanted anything for the house. She only decorated her yard!
I brought mama the little fishing boy, sitting on the rock, and many of the angels she sat in her yard. As her nickname was “Angel”, we always looked for ones to bring every year. I brought home a few I found in her gardens and also left some at her gravesite. She had a few mailboxes also spread throughout her gardens… but they weren’t for the mailman… they held her digging tools and gloves that she never wore! In the backyard, mama had the biggest Fig tree I’ve ever seen and when it produced fruit… it was loaded! She often talked about going out to the tree and eating until she was full… then the birds could enjoy the rest. Sadly, I never seemed to arrive in hot August to enjoy any!
We arrived one summer to discover that mama had new ideas for her yard… and soon dragged us over to the train tracks across the street to help her drag home the old railroad ties she had found. I think she purposely waited for us… on this project! Good thing Stephen came… as we needed muscle! The train tracks were just behind the neighbors house across the street… so we went back and forth with the wheelbarrow all day… Stephen pushing and me steadying the cart. After we finished, Stephen plopped down so hard in one of the chairs out front… that he plopped right through the web covering. He laughed so hard that he couldn’t even get up! We all couldn’t stop laughing!
Glad I had my camera handy!
Several years ago, mama sat in one of these same very chairs and fell through, just like Stephen… but this time there was no one there to help her out… a least not right away! She told me that night, how she tried and tried to get out… but then started yelling for yelp. A car passing by stopped and then the neighbors came over to help. Now what a picture that would be! We threw out the remaining chairs on our next trip down… even though they looked ok… they would have been a “Sit at your own risk”!
Mama and grandson, Stephen, enjoying a rest after arranging all the railroad ties in her garden. The following summer we arrived to find them all gone… she decided that she then wanted to outline her gardens with rocks instead. Thankfully, she lugged home most of them before we arrived! She’s always loved rocks and never went anywhere without bringing a few home. (Stephen looks like he’s double-checking the chair he just sat in… guess not wanting a repeat performance!)
Train ties all gone… she decided she wanted rocks! Garden changes never ended!
Hard to even remember how many flowers Mama actually had… loved her Elephant Ears. She was happiest out in the garden, and could easily spend all day out there. I’ve seen her come in… lay down, and next thing she’d be back up… heading out to the garden as another idea popped in her head! Mama would say she felt close to God when working in her gardens… that was her church time!
Mama grew some of the largest Elephant Ear plants!
When mama’s Hydrangeas bloomed, they were beautiful… they pretty much surrounded her house! Often total strangers would stop and ask for a cutting… or even a wedding bouquet… she never refused! Once a young boy came by asking for a bouquet of hydrangeas for mother’s day!
The strangest gardening story came one evening, when I asked “what’s new?”… “Well, I called the cops today because someone dug up my plants, leaving holes all in my garden. I am so mad!” She never did find out who the flower culprit was until much later while at the senior center. A woman visiting there began talking about how her boys had brought some plants home awhile back… as they thought they were marihuana. Mama quickly joined in on that conversation! The plants they had dug up were Cosmos… and I had sent her the seeds. When the plants are very young, they do tend to look similar to a marihuana plant… so guess the boys thought so too… until their mama squashed that! Boy if mama had caught them… she might have tanned their backsides! While it was funny… mama was still fuming over their escapades for a long, long time! She will give you plants… but never steal from her!
The side brick patio area she built was always so inviting… in the top left of the photo you can see her black Hollyhocks… those were her prized ones as they had been hard to acquire. They never grew for me! I asked mama once why she never planted flowers at our house in Perry… “the only thing I planted there was one of my mother’s lilies at the back door (milk and wine lily).” I always refer to them as “Ola Lily” after my grandmother. When I moved here I also planted one at the back door. I never gardened until I gave up smoking… and I needed something to do.
I never knew where the wheel came from, but the plow was granddaddy’s… bringing it there from the farm. I even took one home to Connecticut with me… but sadly they both are long gone. The wheel was later moved to the garden that divided the neighbors yard, and was too wedged in for me to dig out on this last trip… hubby kept telling me that it wasn’t going to fit in the car… so I finally gave up and left it to hopefully remain in her gardens! (I sadly had to leave that large wheel at mama’s when we sold the house… it was too large to fit in my car… hope it remains there for me to see when I go by her house)
Every time we arrived at Mama’s, there were always new additions or changes to her gardens. I laughed when I began going back through photos and saw the alligator and lizard on her trees… I have no clue what happened to them, but I did bring home the round scrollwork wheel leaning against the tree. I was amazed to find the tall pole with several birdhouses on them one year… a nice neighbor put that up for her, but she climbed the ladder to hang the birdhouses. I can just see her lugging home that pole! Mama made many of the birdhouses around the yard… she was handy with a hammer and saw… and never tell her she couldn’t make something!
It was also never unusual for mama to stop and pick up items put out for trash… the old saying of “one person’s trash is another’s treasure”… definitely applied to her. Several years ago she stopped to pick up huge heavy cement urns someone threw out… the man disposing of them even offered to put them in her car. A big problem happened when she thought she could just slowly roll them out of the car… they rolled all right… right on her foot! Two weeks later she finally told me that she couldn’t walk on her foot and had been crawling alongside the cat in the house… I managed to get someone to take her to the foot doctor where he operated and put a pin in. It originally was a fracture, but by her continuing to walk on it, she eventually broke the top bone. As stubborn as she was, she wouldn’t even wear the boot he sent her home in… saying it made her walk lopsided! Somehow she healed and survived… but she never listened to us on what type of things she shouldn’t do. My mother was the mother stubbornest person I’ve ever known… it was always her way or the highway!
Whenever she saw me out with the camera, she’d turn away to work in the garden, as she never liked to look directly at the camera… then she’d fuss that I took backside photos of her… Well stop bending over! (Mama’ “Ola Lily” is at the top of photo by the birdhouse)
Digging up flowers for me to take home to plant… I’m sure there were Ola Lilly roots in that bag!
I”m sure mama was giving Melissa some gardening tips!
Thank You Mama for all the fun times we had in your gardens… they were beautiful! I Miss You!
My previous years of A to Z Challenges:
- 2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
- 2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
- 2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
- 2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… I felt it was time to finally write the favorites of my husbands family foods.
- 2020: A to Z Family Stories… writing the stories of my husband’s family.
For more A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!
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