desire was to be a farmer, and after he left the ministry, he fulfilled that desire by buying that property. He had several large truck gardens and grew a variety of vegetables, including corn, asparagus and tomatoes.
Now that he’s gone, the gardens have gone back to natural grass. Mom keeps the grass mowed in self-defense. When it’s long, grasshoppers set in and chiggers thrive.
In among the grass are bunches of wild daisies. Her neighbors all mow their daisies, but my mother mows around them. Even though they’re not as big or showy as the garden variety, she still appreciates their beauty.
That’s pretty much the way Mom looks at everything. She sees the good for what it is, even if it could have been better. She mows the weeds, memories of bad times, short and keeps them in perspective. Like mulch made from weeds, she turns her own sorrow into compassion and uses it to nourish her relationships with other people.
Dad was a manic depressive. Living with him for forty years wasn’t always easy. He didn’t always receive the love others tried to show him. He accused us of hurting him by
reinterpreting our words and actions in ways that were never intended. He used emotional weapons—guilt, anger, rejection—to get even with us for things we never
But he could be thoughtful, too. He supported our career choices by sending us to college and buying things we needed. He took us on horseback rides when we were small. He gave us piggy back rides and taught us how to fish.
When we think about him now, we have a choice of recalling the thoughtless things, or the caring things he did. Like my mother’s pasture, we can cut the weeds short and mow around the daisies, taking their beauty in their wild state, accepting them for what they are without comparing them to the ones in the florist shop.
Or, we can consider the daisies to be weeds, too, and mow the whole thing down. But what is there to show in that?
Or, again, we can let our thoughts grow wild, and allow every memory, good and bad, to grow to their full height. Weeds grow taller than grass, taller than flowers, and if left alone, will overshadow and choke out the wildflowers. Then, the grass hoppers will set in, and the chiggers thrive; anger, resentment, self-pity, remorse.
It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re eaten up with chigger bites. It’s equally hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re eaten up with anger.
When I visit Mom and see the wild flowers left to grow, I remember that. Maybe that’s why she lets them grow, too. Maybe, when she thinks about Dad, her thoughts are like the daisies.
In memory of Arleen G. Knoderer
June 4, 1921 to April 23, 2013
Rest in Peace