Sunday, May 9, 2010

Foundations

We are all a sum of our formative years. If we're fortunate, we were surrounded by loving parents, grandparents and extended family that weave together a fabric of care, support, encouragement and guidance. The time of year is spring and my thoughts always turn to home, up on the side of a ridge in East Tennesee. I am drawn back home to walk the fields and see the flowers blooming, and revisit the places of my childhood.


I speak often about my large, loving family. We were fortunate to live next door to my maternal Grandparents; in southern terms, just across the field. Further down the lane was my Great Aunt Carrie's house. Aunt Carrie and her mother raised flowers to sell downtown on Market Square at the turn of the century...early 1900's. I have described in past blog articles that during my childhood, the remnants of all of those flower beds still existed all around our combined properties. I learned all manner of information and details about flowers, gardening and the old ways of tending the land from these relatives.

For me, this was part of the quiet strength of my own foundation. My Grandfather was a farmer who raised tobacco for a living, among other jobs. Because he was raised around flowers, he had an appreciation for them that continued throughout his life. When springtime would approach, he would often take us with him to the Farmer's Co-op to buy seeds for spring planting. Or, if you happened to be visiting their house on the days in the fall when the seed catalogs came in the mail, you sometimes could sit quietly in his lap and peruse all the colorful pages of flowers and vegetables and 'help' plan for the following season's crops.

My Grandfather was a hard person, with his own set of struggles and faults, but he was a very good grandparent. One year when I was still small, we were outside playing and heard Grandpa's tractor start up. This was the signal to race across the field and investigate what exciting, interesting task was on the day's agenda. That morning, Grandpa was tilling and seeding the fields between our house and his. When we approached, asking for the inevitable tractor ride, he obliged, taking each of us up on his lap for a turn around the field.

I can remember that so clearly, to this very day. Sitting there on his lap, surrounded by his arms, watching his large, work worn hands on the wheel of the tractor. It is one of the most secure feelings I believe I have ever felt, just being blissfully happy to be with him, experiencing riding on the tractor, chattering away, occasionally making him laugh. When my turn on the tractor came to an end, he helped me down, then knelt next to me and pulled packets of seeds from the front pocket of his overalls. The pictures on the seed packets were of daisies, all colors and varieties. There had to have been a good 20-30 packets, as the fields were large that he was tending. Grandpa told me the seeds had been on sale at the Farmer's Co-op and he decided he would buy them for me. Just me. It is important to note here that there are 27 grandchildren (my first cousins) in the family, so one child being singled out was not common. Yet my Grandpa did this with us at various times. He would take my brother hunting, show my sister how to use woodworking tools and he would share flowers with me and my Mom.

That year, the fields were sown with a combination of hay and all those thousands of daisy seeds. It looked like something out of a movie when the flowers bloomed...white ones, pink ones, yellow, pale blue...and a few black-eyed Susans scattered about. I would come home with arm loads of bouquets daily, there were so many of them blooming.

Why is this important enough to write a blog article about it? I could say it is as simple as it being a lovely childhood memory and that would be true. I could leave it there and this would still be an enjoyable post to write and read. Yet it was more than that. Growing up in a home with an absent father, my Grandpa became our primary father figure. In later years this would also grow to encompass all five of my Uncles, but to begin with, my Grandpa was my first male hero.

That one summer where he did something that he probably didn't spend much time thinking about, was a moment where I was shown that small gestures matter. It was also a moment where I felt loved in that unique manner that all small children accept as their due. I was loved, cherished and cared for to the point that this busy, oftentimes gruff and brusque man took time to do something whimsical and thoughtful in a manner he knew would absolutely delight my little girl's heart.

As the years went forward, he would bring flower bulbs to my Mom and I to plant around our property. Sometimes they were the old fashioned, familiar flowers such as daffodils, muscaris (we called them miniature grape hyacinths), peonies, hydrangeas, and my favorite flower, Lily of the Valley. Occasionally they would be something that caught his eye because they were unusual. It was his awkward, silent way of showing us he cared, I think. Now, as an adult, when springtime approaches the Tennessee Valley and everything blooms fresh and new, I feel a sense of closeness to my roots. When I see everything greening up and all the flowers blooming, I automatically reconnect with those childhood memories.

Scents and music are the strongest triggers for memories, so it is no small wonder that I am most at home during the spring and summer months. When life is fast paced and hectic, I think we all revisit those quiet moments in our minds. Clearly in my mind will always be the bright memory of a little girl standing next to a tall Grandpa with his hands full of flower seed packets, and a sweet moment just for that one little girl. It reminds me that I am loved unconditionally and that the size of the field where those flowers were sewn that spring, vast and endless to a child's eye, represented a wide open vista. Even at that young an age, I was aware of underlying messages that God/Universe sends us. That day, the message was simple. "You are loved." And it was spelled out in daisies from the hand of a Grandpa to a Granddaughter.

As an adult, I have carried that moment with me, deep in my memories and heart. I have paid the moment forward regularly, paying attention to small things that matter to those around me. I am a sum of my childhood and my life experiences, and it makes me smile to finish this specific post and realize that once again, the reason so many people comment on my loving nature is because of the solid foundation I was given in childhood.

If you are reading this blog post, take a moment to cast your mind back and find a special memory to focus on where you felt that same warm blanket of love surrounding you. It may not be from your childhood; indeed, it could be from a week ago, but if you take a moment to concentrate, you will find it. With enough time and thought, you will find many such moments, for you are equally beautiful and equally deserving of the message, spelled out in daisies or in colorful script, or in nice, simple clean lines...that....You Are Loved.
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If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.

2 comments:

marci-me said...

such a lovely story !!
Such a lovely man for a grandfather!
You were loved, in simple ways - which are the most profound and precious of them all

Healing Morning said...

Marcella, I'm glad you enjoyed reading this one. It is one of my most cherished memories of my Grandpa. Even now, I can close my eyes and see that field full of daisies! Thank you for your comment, dear one.

~ Dawn