*Note: We are thrilled to be practicing intergenerational love and we are learning from the best. This piece is a beautiful reflection by MobileHomeComing Interviewee Angela Denise Davis about FINDING her mother's garden.
I know there is a poem in this somewhere. It almost got lost this evening when my mother did a final spray over her garden and did not notice that my laptop was on the patio table.
My mother’s back yard is full of flavor: an old kitchen, ceiling fan turned sideways on a patio column, a black mailbox that peeks from the grapevines, an umbrella on the deck that leans to kiss the umbrella on the patio, and a striped snake whose presence is the reason for a container of mothballs on the table. I wish I had a camera.
Her back yard is her sanctuary. I find shelter in a chair that is snuggled by a palm plant and a family of pots – terra cotta, green plastic, clay, metal, and those invented out of found objects.
She is out there in the morning and in the late evening when the sun is less brutal than at mid-day.
I watched this evening as she cut down wandering vines and swept the patio clean. My father will have work to do tomorrow. I ask if I should put the cut greenery in the garden trash can.
“No,” she says.
“Mama, dad ain’t gonna like seeing this stuff on his fresh cut lawn,” I tell her.
She just replies with a chuckle that he needs to see all the work he should have done. She said he would never recognize her work if she didn’t leave the pile in the yard. She is right, of course. My father says she works too hard, but he enjoys the creation of vines structure and spirit as much as she does.
I listen as the water from the faucet trickles into a bucket she has slid under the attached hose.
“I don’t like to waste water,” she informs me and I take the bucket into her garden. The Marigolds did not get rain last night. They will thrive in their homes made of the holes in the cement blocks that line her rows of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and okra.
There is always work to do in this space my mother has created. This evening she wants to place hooks on the beams of her patio roof.
“Who does this when I am not here, Mama?” I ask with the answer already in my head.
“Oh, your dad,” she says. I know that she does not always have the patience to wait for him, though. Tonight, I make sure that she does not over exert herself and reach for the drill in her hand.
I step on the small, metal stool and place the drill over my head, reaching as high as I can. Three hooks later, we place the ferns and other potted plants just beneath the lattice covered with wild vines. She tells me that anyone from Alabama or Mississippi would know the name of the mass of greenery that hangs from the patio roof like a blanket of leaves. I tell her that I will ask Mary Anne about the vine which my mother thinks may be named Ms. Astor.
The night was closing fast around us, but I would not go in the house until my mother was trailing behind me. I knew that she could always find more work to do before calling it quits. She will be 70 years-old next January. She has more work in this life than she will ever finish.
“We’ll get the rest in the morning,” I tell her.
This week has been full of heart work. We have grieved the loss of her niece, my cousin. It has been a loss that has made our distance more regretful. Here, in her green world we seem to be finding our way back home to each other. We are two women working on reconciliation. Perhaps, we are planting new ways of being mother and daughter. I hope so, but do not invest too much time in expecting what the harvest of these days will bring. I am simply satisfied with the knowledge that we have planted something new between us here in her back yard even though there is more work for tomorrow.