Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Continuing the Tradition of Flower Gardening

Today’s focus for the Summer Blog Challenge is something that I’m proud of from the last few days. Last Thursday, Sophia and I helped my mom with grocery shopping at Cub and Costco. We ended up leaving home at 7:30 a.m. and helping her until 2:30 p.m.

After we were done shopping, unloading her groceries at the assisted living apartment where she’s staying until the 27th of June, and setting up her medication for the next 1 ½ weeks (ten pills daily – not include two different types of eye drops and two dosages of insulin), we headed over to her home.

We unloaded the non-grocery items at her home, and then loaded into the Jeep the six flower planters that were sitting in the garage and outdoors along the walkway.

These planters were ones that my Dad and I had planted last year. Each year for the past few years, I helped him plant flowers in the planters.

Initially, he picked out the flowers and planted them. As Alzheimer’s took ahold of him more, we would discuss the flowers and make a joint decision, and we would plant the flowers together.

I remember my Dad asking me one year, “Where did you learn to do this?”

“You taught me, Dad,” I said.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes, you taught me all about flowers and how to plant them…just like we’re doing now.”

And then last year, I drove the Jeep to the Farmer’s Market because my Dad could no longer drive. He sat in the back seat next to Sophia and Olivia while my Mom sat in the front seat since it was easier to get in and out of (due to her mobility issues ).

We slowly walked up and down the aisles at the Farmer’s Market, and picked out beautiful flowers. I suggested different ones that I thought my Dad would like, and he agreed with my choices by simply saying that each flower was pretty.

When we got back to their home, my Dad no longer knew the process of planting the flowers. I had to get the planters, prepare the soil, and put the flowers in the planters. He stood by and watched as I planted.

Flowers at Dad's Home
One of the planters that Dad and I planted in 2011.

When I was done with each planter, I asked him if he would like to water the flowers. He eagerly filled up the plastic pitcher in the house, carefully walked out to where I was, and gently watered each flower.
I brought the planters out and placed them along the walkway. He was satisfied. We had planted the flowers that he would enjoy for the summer and early fall, until he went to the nursing home.

Dad with Flowers
Dad welcoming anyone who wanted to visit him
to his flower-lined walkway.

This year, my Mom said that she would like to have flowers along the walkway…just like my Dad did. “Maybe even a tomato plant, just like we had last year,” she said.

Tomato Plant
Tomato plants I planted for my Mom this year.

Although she wanted to pick out the flowers, we didn’t have time on Thursday. I offered to get the flowers if she told me what colors she liked.

“Anything that I can see. Bright colors – like yellow, pink, and red,” she said.

Sophia and I picked out a variety of flowers in the colors she wanted once we got near home that afternoon.
On Saturday afternoon, I planted all the planters – five are filled with flowers and one has cherry tomato plants in it.

Planters for Mom
Five flower planters for Mom.

Interestingly, one of the planters had a tiny purple flower – ironically, an annual flower - growing amongst the dead leaves and plants from last year. I removed all the dead plant material, leaving only the purple flower. Around it, I put bright yellow marigolds and red flowers.

Close-up of Flower
Single purple flower that Dad and I planted last year,
but somehow survived the freezing temperatures.
This annual flower came up again this year.

I looked at that lone flower…the one that made it through an entire winter of sub-zero temperatures outdoors. There it proudly stood – right in the front – the focal point of the arrangement. A reminder of my Dad and his love for gardening and flowers.

I’ll be watering and caring for the flowers and tomatoes until she moves back home on June 27th. She has been in the hospital, transitional care unit (at the nursing home), and now assisted living for almost four months due to a fractured ankle and complications from diabetes. Now, she is ready to return home – much stronger and healthier than she has been for years.

Five Yellow Flowers
Five yellow flowers in the center representing our family.

When I drive her up the driveway to her home that Wednesday, the flowers will be there waiting for her…welcoming her home. And, hopefully, reminding her of my Dad and the wonderful life they shared together.


Shai Smith said...

Awww, this is such a sweet story! That purple flower is a trooper! ♥

Kendall said...

This is such a sweet story. I don't know if it's because of my pregnancy hormones or what, but it totally made my eyes welled up. Really beautiful story.