This I Believe

Lucia - Edina, Minnesota
Entered on June 6, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: nature
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Lessons from the Garden

Recently, the most important lessons I have learned are from a plant. I guess it started with my need to differentiate myself from others. I was shopping at Whole Foods buying soy yogurt to prepare for yet another attempt to become a vegan. It was spring, and they had a slew of single potted vegetable plants to choose from. Radishes, tomatoes, pees, beans. My mind immediately flashed back. I was 7. It was summer and I was in my grandparent’s backyard. A small 6 by 4 foot garden was in front of me, and I was watering it. I saved watering the tomatoes for last because they were the most important. For several years, my grandfather and I grew this garden. When he died I saw my grandmother try and erase the trace of it by planting new grass over the cultivated soil, but when I saw a small, struggling tomato plant, the memories flooded back in.

The first mistake I made was naming my plant after my grandfather. William seemed like an appropriate name, but I did not know the consequences that it would have. If the plant were named Rob, or John, I wouldn’t have learned what I did. When you dedicate something to someone, you can’t leave it in your car overnight to freeze, you can’t blast heat on it, nor can you forget to water it. William the plant went everywhere with me, and he was always watching over me from his cozy spot in my cup-holder in my car. If my windows were open and I was driving too fast, I could see the leaves bending in odd angles ready to break. This was my grandfather’s sign for me to slow down.

Friday nights I’d be in my car with friends discussing what to do. The idea of going to a party always seemed to be the consensus, but leaving William alone in the car while I got drunk wouldn’t be right. You wouldn’t do that to your grandfather, and since the plant was my only connection to my grandfather, I couldn’t do it. I dropped my friends off and drove home and placed William on my counter.

Because of this plant- I believe. I believe that the dead do not depart from this world and that they all live on. My grandfather lived on through a tomato plant, yours may live on through a shoe, a fish, or a baseball bat. Although we will never get to see our loved ones again, their influence and care will continue to possess us. It took a $3.99 plant from a grocery store for me to realize the impact in my life that my grandfather had. When I was driving too fast again with the windows down a few nights ago, a leaf of my tomato plant blew off and hit my face. Appalled at the damage I had done, I actually shed a tear-something I could not even do at my grandfather’s funeral.