Precious Seeds

The sunflower is looking better. This is no ordinary plant. It grew from the seeds my mother gave me one bright summer day a few weeks before she died. She moved precariously that day, but with the stability of a walker we navigated safely through the large automatic door of her nursing village. We both squinted in the bright sunlight. And then began a tour of her outdoor world: raised bed gardens that residents could reach, bird houses and feeders gathered near large windows, neatly mulched beds by the porch filled with colorful zinnias and all kinds of hosta. Bright white-painted rocking chairs moved in the breeze. A pretty wooden bench beckoned to us, so we sat and rested a bit. I loved those times with my mother.
Then we moved along further and found the sunflowers. It was already late summer and several of the plate-like bursts of color had faded and presented seeds. She ceremoniously reached out to pluck off a few and gave them to me. “Here. You take these. You can plant them in your garden.” She was reaching right into my heart but only later did I fully understand. You see, my mother and I shared a love of gardens, beautiful flowers and herbs, and the practice of cultivating something lovely.
I have never forgotten that day. With time, sadness came as she became ill and eventually left us. But I kept those seeds in a little baggie, a few brown pods that she had gently pressed into my hand from hers, for the day when I would plant them. The time came; the seeds found their way into my little “Secret Garden” and one robust leafy sunflower plant emerged weeks later. Before long it produced tiny buds that grew and grew.
Then one morning as I visited the garden the buds were missing! A deer from the woods nearby had likely smelled the scent of those luscious young morsels and had himself a delicious dinner during the night. My first order of the day was a stop at the garden shop. Before long, a fine spray to safely deter deer and other critters became part of the daily garden routine.
Thankfully, the precious plant has produced more buds. This lovely reminder of my dear mother speaks to me of her courage and resilience, her beauty and strength. The sunflower will live on, along with the memories, and I will guard it with greatest affection. She too lives on in her Heavenly home, where she is surely enveloped in the brilliance of a magnificent field of sunflowers.

To tap dance or not….

Have you thought recently about your dreams, the wishes that rest in your heart and soul waiting for a burst of courage or time or energy to make them come true? Recently I was delighted to meet up with a former colleague at a gathering in the country. Over savory chili,  cornbread, and salads, I asked her what she has been doing since she retired.  I knew her to be a creative and adventurous person, but her answer surprised me. She said she took tap dance lessons because she had always dreamed of tap dancing on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on Thanksgiving Day. In order to fulfill this dream she needed to learn the craft. Interestingly, after several lessons she decided she really didn’t care much for tap dancing. She graciously chose to let go of her dream, knowing she had given it a try. She was at peace with her decision and has moved on to other interesting goals. Ah ha!  We can let go of a dream and there is no need for disappointment. This was a healthy discovery.

The amazing freedom of retirement allows the mind to wander into nooks and crannies where we discover all sorts of things we’ve always wanted to do or be. That list is likely to include far more than anyone could manage in a lifetime. Thanks to my friend for sharing her story and reminding me that effort counts, we should use our time wisely, and flexibility is important. Above all, we should be joyfully courageous and step out there, in tap shoes or not!