Today is August 11th, and today I bury my Grandpa Pete. Six years ago on this day, I was by my grandma’s side as she passed away. Now I pray they are together in Heaven.
I was close to my grandparents. My Grandpa Pete, who married my grandma the year I was born, was the only Grandpa I have ever known. When I think of my grandparents, I think of the summers I spent in La Grande, Oregon. With them, I learned so much.
My grandparents literally lived off the land. They had a huge garden where they grew all their own vegetables, replete with fruit trees and wild berry plants. They had their own animals they plucked and butchered (which is still a little traumatizing to remember - have you ever seen a chicken with its head cut off? ...it runs). We would go to town once a week for the bare basics. Both of them grew up during the depression, which instilled a habit of saving and reusing everything. I mean everything, from bacon grease to tin foil used over and over…..yuck!
My grandma taught me how to make bread, ice cream, cakes and pies from scratch. She had a major sweet tooth. Grandpa Pete taught me how to work all day and how to create toys out of old broken objects. An abandoned lawn mower was my pretend car for at least two summers. He would teach me how to catch chipmunks with just a box, a string, and nuts, like you see in the cartoons. He spent countless hours with me on his tractor. There was a creek nearby where we used to fish and play. Once, I went to cast my homemade fishing pole and cast my Grandpa Petes eye instead. Despite having a temper, he was so gentle with me, even having a hook in his eye. He once saved me from a rattlesnake, snatching me up before I stepped on it. At age seven, I learned how to play Canasta, a complicated card game but you get really good at it when you play with adults. We ate rice cereal, cream of wheat, and biscuits with gravy. The poor man's diet. What stands out most about Grandpa Pete was his hard work ethic. He always had a garden, until he went into the nursing home.
Thinking of the garden brings me peace. Thinking of the garden brings a smile. Recently, I’ve been reading about a different Garden.
Jesus knew the value of spending time with nature, in quiet communion with God. Perhaps he felt a calling to be one with nature while praying. To experience that place of peace and beauty. Today, I too can experience that peace. I can stop for a moment and picture my grandparents beautiful garden. I can still remember the rich dark soil, the beautiful flowers, vibrant colors and glorious scents.
When I go to stand at the grave site today to watch the burial of my Grandpa Pete, I will take a deep breath in and release out any pain or negative feelings. I will pray for his peace. I will pray for peace for my family. I will think of the Garden and give thanks for these sacred memories and experiences I was given. Here in the Garden, I am one with God, united with the source of all life and healing.
The Lord will guide you continually…. and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. -Isaiah 58:11
In the past six years we have lost so many people in our family. I understand that at my age, many people have lost Grandmas and Grandpas. However, it does not lessen the pain of loss. I think of my kids and the loss they have known at such young ages. I want to share my memories with them.
Today, I want them to think of beautiful gardens. Of love. Of peace. Most of all, to think of God.God Bless and have a beautiful, vibrant day. Peace be with you.