It was a hot summer day, the sticky kind of hot that smothers your skin and zaps the energy right out of you. Days like these you would have found me in the shade of the front porch watching the cars drive by sipping on the biggest glass of sweet tea around. That was the type of summer work that I liked to engage in but not so for my dad. He knew it was the growing time. Things needed to be done on the hot, sunny days in order to enjoy the harvest later.
You see, my dad was a gardener. What he could do with a small plot of land smack dab in the middle of the city was amazing. I am not a gardener. Green thumbs and dirt under the nails didn’t make it in my genetic makeup. I couldn’t fathom why you would want to work hard for those vegetables when you could go to the nearest supermarket and buy them. I didn’t understand then but I do now.
What I wouldn’t give for another bite of the fruit of his garden. The corn was sweeter. The tomatoes were bigger. The green beans were longer and the zucchinis were massive. There was a difference between the bought and the nurtured – a very big difference and it was more than size or taste. There was a sense of accomplishment knowing your hands together with God’s grace grew a harvest to be enjoyed.
I wish my eyes would have seen what was really unfolding in that dirt field when the seeds were planted. I wish that I had not discounted the work my father was accomplishing and sought the lazy pleasure of a shady porch. I am grateful for the memories of his 6’2” frame bent over his plants. The vision of him in his dirty denim overalls and straw brimmed hat brought horrified embarrassment to a teenage city girl and now brings a warm smile of recollection to a middle aged daughter’s heart. While I was city born and bred, he was Kentucky country through and through.
A good man
A hard working man
A country boy forever
Unfortunately, my dad no longer tills this earthen dirt. He is tending abundant gardens in heaven I am sure. With him is the wealth of when, where and how to plant and tend the tilled and furrowed rows. Gone with him is the hope that I will one day grow a plot of land and harvest a sweet bounty. Yet, the gathering isn’t complete.
My life is a gleaning of the harvest he began. The work of his heart and hands joined with God’s grace has tended the furrowed rows of my heart. The person I am today has been shaped by his example.
He loved the land. He loved his family. He loved his God.
He wasn’t perfect. This side of heaven none of us can claim that title. He was and will always remain my father. Legacy born in dirt; grown in time and lived in life. I am grateful the harvesting continues.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
(This picture is from my wedding 26 years ago. Sadly and quite surprisingly, I couldn't find a picture of him in those denim overalls.)