Saturday, March 14, 2009


Family means so many things. Each of us grew up with a different concept of what it means to be part of a family, to belong. I never felt that I belonged with the family that raised me. I was an adopted child and came to parents who already had raised three children of their own. Flesh and blood children. Not a stranger like me.

At fourteen I eloped with a tall rangy boy with a funny smile and an old beat-up car. I thought he was the best thing since they invented chocolate. I thought he could walk on water. After 23 years I figured out chocolate was better and he couldn't walk on water. He couldn't even swim.

Not to put him down though, he did give me four absolutely beautiful children. Finally, at long last, I had that family I had wanted for so long.

Raising "the wild bunch" was not easy. Hard times were normal during their growing up years. We lived in an assortment of dwellings that would make most people's skin crawl. We wore second and third hand clothing and took food donated from church pantries. We carried water while living in homes that had no running water, depending on family and friends for that vital liquid. We were poor. We got by.

The children are grown, and I left the place we all lovingly call "red dirt hill" many years ago. My ex-husband still lives there, still struggles in a hell of his own making. The children have also left the hill and have families of their own. Beautiful families who live much better than their parents did.

I have a husband now who is not the best thing since chocolate, nor can he walk on water. . .but he can swim. One's perspective changes from the ages of 14 to 38 when it comes to choosing a husband. One's perspective changes even more from age 38 to 57 as far as what you expect from marriage in general.

And then there is the perspective on family. Family is dropping everything to come to an emergency room when your mother says, "Son, I need you here, it's not good". Family is taking time off work you can ill afford to lose when you get the call that your step-dad is having surgery, now, and mama is waiting there, all alone. Family is calling to check on someone, just because you had them on your mind. Family is a silly get well card, a birthday phone call, a hug, and an "I love you" text message. Family is knowing there is always someone you can call when you need a shoulder to cry on, or are giddy with happiness and just need to share.

Our families, the in-laws, outlaws, spouses, children, parents, grandparents, or those who are our families by choice. From the most stable to the most dysfunctional, they are ours to love, hold, and treasure.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gardening and Life

The seed catalogs have arrived and my heart sings for it means spring is not far away. In my greenhouse, baby begonias and foxgloves are reaching toward the light, waiting for the day when they leave its confines to feel the soft spring breeze and feel the warmth of the sun.

I often walk my gardens in winter, checking for any signs of life returning. Presently crocus and daffodils are blooming. The approaching cold will nip them. They are too far along to hide from the cold this time. I will bring some of them in so we can enjoy them as the snow falls and the cold winds howl.

This year I will be planting more vegetables among the herbs and flowers. The usual tomatoes and peppers will be joined by cucumbers, squash and other favorites.

Gardening makes apparent that life is a continuing cycle of birth, life and death. As the sun returns each spring the sleeping plants and seeds emerge full of life and vigor. As spring turns into summer they mature and bear fruit and seeds for the next year. In autumn they age and die or go into dormancy. This cycle plays out year by year as it has for untold ages.

As I watch my garden and contemplate the cycle of life and rebirth I draw parallels between the life of plants and of every other creature on our beautiful planet. We are all part of the cycle, passengers on the silver wheel of time as it circles around forever.