“Mom, I know I am going to be leaving soon when I graduate from college. I have seen the way you light up whenever we give you flowers. I would like to create flower beds for you.” My son Alex and I stood by the lamp post in our front yard as we chatted.
He continued, “You could pick out the flowers you want but in addition to seasonal flowers, we can also plant perennials so they will come up year after year.” His excitement grew as we talked. I looked around. The trees had begun to bud and the soft green of early spring reassured us that winter had gone. It was indeed time to think about spring time planting.
“I want to leave a legacy of beauty for you to enjoy after I am gone.” His eyes sparkled as he shared his ideas. He gestured toward the front of the yard, “I thought we could put three circle flower beds up there and one back here under the tree. We could make a smaller circle bed at the corner and plant day lilies.”
He turned and pointed back to the garage. “We could put two rose bushes there and one on each side of the front of the drive and then put another one under the lamp.” The words tumbled out of his mouth, a bubbling stream of beautiful thoughts. He turned and looked back over the yard, “Then we could plant two hibiscus bushes between the front flower beds. He took me over to the white crepe myrtle in the center of the yard. “I know you always wanted a pink crepe myrtle so I could plant two of them on either side of the white one.”
I smiled, “That would be awesome!”
Then Alex went down by the deck. “And Mom, look here in the shade, we could plant pink and red impatiens and I saw this vine of yellow flowers at the nursery, that winds around the tree, we could put it on this tree by the deck. We could put begonias in the tubs in front of the house.”
His eagerness and delight to give me this gift of flowers touched my heart. I did love flowers. Two other thoughts came to mind; one, the amount of work involved in digging new flower beds in our rocky soil; two, sadness that soon he would be leaving. I enjoyed his company and the bond of love between us. We had faced a lot of challenges and as we worked through those, a closeness grew.
At the same time, my heart filled with pride and joy that he would soon graduate from college. This was not a usual situation. My husband and I had adopted him from Sao Paulo, Brazil, when he was fifteen. Because of the poverty he grew up in and the lack of opportunity for kids in his situation, he would have never gone beyond the eighth grade. His bright mind would have been wasted. Now instead of hopelessness, he had an opportunity for happiness and for a bright future.
I agreed to his gift of beauty and soon he started digging into the hard soil with zest and enthusiasm. I watched him dig up large stones and remove them. I shook my head, “This soil is so rocky. Digging up all those rocks is so difficult.”
Alex hit another big rock with his shovel and jolted it out. “I don’t look it that way. I look at it as a challenge. Look at how much good soil rushed in there as soon as I removed that big rock.”
He worked hard and long creating the beds. Soon with additional good soil added and rocks around them, our flower beds were ready. We planted a wonderful array of periwinkles: pink, purple and white and petunias: red, pink and white. Then we chose an assortment of perennials such as dianthus: pink and white; purple succulents and many other flowers: red, pink, and yellow.
We put in red and pink impatiens by the deck and red and pink begonias in tubs up against the house. My son planted the roses, the Rose of Sharon hibiscus between the two flower beds and the pink crepe myrtles, one on either side of the existing white one.
In the summer, with fertilizer, water and care, our yard became a showcase of beautiful flowers.
After Alex left, as he desired, year after year, the perennial flowers came up in the spring and I planted seasonal flowers as well. His love expressed in beauty touched my heart again and again. I took photographs so I could draw and paint some of the petunias, the periwinkles, roses and others to share the beauty with others.
As I reflected on this, a realization came to me; Beauty had been created in the rocky soil of his life as well; Beauty that would continue to express itself throughout his life; Beauty that would bless others as he had blessed me with a legacy of beauty expressed in flowers.
The power of beauty amazes me. Beauty expressed in acts of service, flower gardens or paintings can be enjoyed and savored over and over when we are willing to share them.
I wrote a book that encourages kindness in the form of writing notes, tributes and stories to let people know you appreciate them. Check it out here. “The Gift of Writing: 10 Ways to Share Your Heart, Nurture Your Relationships and Leave a Legacy.”