I come from a very long line of farmers here in the Northeast Georgia area, so it really comes as no surprise just how much I love to grow vegetables and flowers. It seems every year I am always the first one out clearing the fields and tilling the soil where I will later plant my vegetables, or getting my flower beds ready for my latest splash of vibrant colors to accent the yard, and now that I'm getting older its easier to find the time to really enjoy my hobby.When I was a younger man I always worked such long hours that it made it impossible to find the time or energy my passion for gardening demanded, and looking back, I wish I had of taken the time to teach my older children the joys of gardening, but I was always too busy to even think about it.
I was blessed with another chance to pass along my wisdom when my youngest daughter was born in April of 2000. My wife had a decent job with benefits, so I decided to stay home with Kathryn and get some yard work and remodeling done around the house that I had been putting off for such a long time. It was a little tricky the first year, getting used to the needs of a newborn again, but by the the time she was 10 months old, we were taking the stroller out to the yard on nice days, and she would watch patiently as I worked on building flower beds, walkways, and even a small pond from stones I dug from the property.
Its hard to say who was more impressed at our progress, because every day that passed, everyone who saw the place were simply amazed that I could accomplish so much and look after "the baby" at the same time! I always smiled and made sure everyone knew that she was the best little helper I ever had.
We saved the seed from her first apple and managed to grow six little apple trees that we later set out around the yard. We planted strawberries at the edge of the walk and I showed her how to gently lift the leaves to check for any ripe fruit. Not to mention, she always insisted on feeding the goldfish we bought for the pond at least twice a day.
We put out bird feeders and corn for the squirrels, and I built a picnic table and created an area where we could have the gas grill and enjoy cookouts as a family. Just next to that, I installed a swing set large enough for her and any of her friends to play when their families came to visit. We could let them play under our watchful eyes as we sat at the picnic table waiting on the hot dogs or hamburgers to get done.
In a period of less than three years, we had transformed the entire yard into a show place that everyone was proud to visit and spend quality time in with a variety of over 100 flowering plants, some of which even bloomed in the dead of winter. I owe all my success to the inspiration of my daughter, Kathryn. My only regret is we never had enough time to enjoy all the splender we had put together for everyone's enjoyment. Because she is gone now, to be with the Angels.
I would like to dedicate this story to her memory, because she was killed in a car crash along with her grandmother and cousin Marcus on February 24th, 2008, on their way home from church. Even though I will always miss her to no end, I will always see her in all the flowers and beauty she helped surround our lives with. We love and miss you...