Groundwork

imageWe have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.                          Wendell Berry

The beauty that surrounds my home today is the result of my parents’ hard work.

When I was a little girl we had a plain yard. Grass to mow. An apple tree and lots of pine trees in the back. We had a vegetable garden too. But no landscaping. No mulch or fancy stones or yard ornaments. My parents didn’t have the money or time for landscaping until all of us moved out of the house.

Then that’s where they spent most of their time and a lot of their money. A new yard project was underway constantly. Dad was the do-it-yourself master at anything and the yard was no exception. They planted flowers and trees and mulched and sprayed and laid sod and added stepping stones and edgers. They were proud of their yard but mostly enjoyed sharing it with others.

imageA Fourth of July barbecue, an Easter egg hunt, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and Labor Day too. Anytime was a good time to get together and sit in the yard.

My daughter told me last week, “I love how Grandpa planted so many flowers.”

Me too.

We get to experience the bounty of their hard work in the dirt. Their groundwork makes the beauty possible.

Not only in the yard around the house. But in my heart and my memories. In my personality and my character. In who I am.

They did the hard work of teaching us, correcting us and showing us and loving us. They laid the foundation. And it wasn’t easy. And they didn’t do it well sometimes.

They were fighting some tough battles while trying to raise a family. Some we know about. Others we never will. Hardships and addictions and anger and fighting and lying and job losses and lots of bad things happened.

But good things did too. Really good things. Like working together in the yard. Christmases. Playing cards at the dining room table. Sitting on the porch watching thunderstorms.

And apologies and forgiveness and perseverance and love. And all the other good things that come with those.

All of it is groundwork. The good they did, the mistakes they made, the life they lived in front of us.

And we get to experience the bounty of their hard work in the dirt. Their groundwork makes the beauty possible.

 
Story

26 thoughts on “Groundwork

  1. A powerful tribute. This “earth” topic is good… but it needs powerful and loving thoughts like yours to really give it some substance.

    Galen

    1. Thank you Galen. When I started the post I didn’t realize that I was writing a tribute but that’s what happened.

      We are all laying groundwork of some kind aren’t we?

  2. Beautiful story and wonderful lesson of appreciation for us all to learn. I agree with Galen911 and your comment, “We are all laying groundwork of some kind aren’t we?” My parents never did do any landscaping, but they laid the groundwork for the importance of hard work and the need for knowledge in my sisters and I. Thank you for this tribute.

  3. Thanks, Marie. I needed reminding of this simple truth today. Where we’ve come from shapes where we are and directs where we’re headed. The flowers coming up in your garden symbolize this nicely. And I think your folks would be honored to know you can see the ways they caused you to become strong and hard-working. That may be the greatest tribute we can pay our parents — to find their strengths among their weaknesses, to see the them as people working under sometimes very intense stress while trying to do their very best for their loved ones.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you. Thanks again for this post.

    1. Patrick, thank you for your words and the well wishes for Mother’s Day. Yes they would be honored. They told me often how blessed they were to have such wonderful daughters. They were more proud of us than anything else in their lives.

  4. Wonderful reflection, and your parents sound like very selfless, thoughtful individuals. ‘it wasn’t easy’ It didn’t sound easy at all and it seemed they put you and family first 🙂 They may not have spent money on themselves, but they spent their time being resourceful and self-dependent, what with planting the garden and probably fixing everything around the house too 🙂

    As a kid, my parents encouraged me to plant seeds and flowers in the yard. We didn’t get as beautiful flowers as you. But I do remember how fun it was 🙂

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