Memories Grow in My Garden
By Mandy Brooks

I didn’t start the garden. To be honest, I wasn’t even very excited about it. It was Bubba’s dream, not mine, and I saw it simply as an opportunity to spend time together.

Rewind to a quiet evening back in March. I had the windows up enjoying the weather before the hell-hot summer temps set in when I heard what sounded like a tractor fire up. I assumed the county was mowing the easements, but nope. There was a tractor in my yard plowing up our best patch of thick grass. Mention had been made of a garden, but I was caught off-guard. Like I said…I was not excited, more like dreading the large mud-hole that was sure to follow.

Over the next few weeks not much happened. The mud accumulated, the kids played in it, the grass started peeking back through and I waited for it to fill back in. In May Bubba came home with a few plants. Some collards, sweet potatoes, tomatoes…the basics. He put them in the ground and over the next few weeks we added more and more to the plot.

We have since spent hours in the garden, watching things grow, watering, picking collards and trimming leaves. I have never been a play-in-the-dirt type of girl but all of a sudden I find myself looking for anything to plant. I’ll dig plants up out of the woods, buy seeds and see if I can start a new vegetable, or try to save a hosta that the deer munched on.

I have learned that memories truly do grow in a garden. Over the weeks as we have nurtured those little plants thoughts of my Grandaddy have been heavy on my mind. He always had an impressive garden. He found so much joy and peace in working with the earth and plants. I remember when he would give my mom a load of green beans and I couldn’t wait to get to her house and eat them. They just tasted better from Grandaddy’s garden.

I remember him sitting on his front porch in his rocking chair with a glass of buttermilk and cornbread. I remember him telling us we could climb the mimosa tree but we better pray first. He always had a stash of Debbie cakes and we could have anything but those and his good cheddar cheese. I think most of us have a photo of ourselves or our children on the tractor with him. He was a kind, gentle, godly man and I miss him more and more as I get older. The wise words he could offer are irreplaceable.

He put his heart and his sweat into that earth and what I would give to be able to call him and ask him why my tomato leaves are turning yellow or how do I know when to harvest all of these sweet potatoes? He would probably tell me a few remedies, and then he would tell me to pray over them because God grows that food, not us.

I always wondered why he fooled with that garden. He always came in so sweaty and tired. It just didn’t seem worth the hassle to me, but I finally understand. It took a mudhole and middle-age but it makes sense now. It does bring peace, and memories, and sometimes lots of mosquito bites, but most importantly you truly do feel closer to God strolling down those rows.

Growing our own food is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things I have ever done. I’m so thankful that Bubba started that mud hole and for the memories that have followed.