In My Parents’ Garden

In My Parents’ Garden

To say that the last several months have been very difficult would be a complete understatement.

From the stark reality of my father’s passing to my mother’s rapid decline from dementia, my life as I knew it has been upended.

I am quickly understanding that grief is not something that evaporates with time, rather a new normal that we need to adjust to.

As the summer months pass and we head into fall, I find myself constantly thinking about what my parents would be doing in the garden and kitchen. How I miss seeing them outside, perfectly manicuring their yard and harvesting the fruits of their labor from their once abundant and thriving garden.

nonna and nonno portraits

While I am writing this, I am staring into the empty garden plot in their backyard where my dad would have several rows of tomato plants, too many butternut squash, different growth periods of lettuce, plenty of early and late rapini, enough garlic to last the winter and lots of beans for the freezer. There are only a few tomato plants that grew on their own, either in dad’s outdoor seedling starter box, or in some flowerpots. One tomato plant thought it would be a good idea to grow from the crack in the sidewalk. Guess what…it is bearing tomatoes too!

I have taken great care to nurture these tomato plants because to me they represent the presence of my parents. I think dad would be very proud and happy to see how many tomatoes these salvaged plants have yielded. Garlic has proliferated everywhere including all the flowerbeds. I have made sure to pull and dry them so that I can use them in all the dishes that my mom used to prepare.

nonna and nonno braiding garlic in the garden

Even the lonely asparagus patch was in serious production mode.

Then there’s the fruit trees that have decided that this is the year to produce a very generous amount of fruit. I recall my mom making jam with the peaches and preserving the apples and pears by drying them for tasty snacks. The white delicious apples were always dad’s favorite.

I guess this is the universe’s way of saying life must go on.

As I work my way through everything, I have this undeniable urge to save everything, especially all the seeds from these last crops that dad would have had his hands on.

We just canned some tomatoes and what a difficult thing  to do without them for the first time.

nonna making sauce and nonno in his garden

I am so glad that we started this blog and along the way have captured so many memorable moments of my parents doing what they do best. The photos and videos will bring me comfort moving forward.

Immersing ourselves back into this blog will help to keep alive the memories of my parents and my childhood, along with all the familiar and comforting things we did around the house with mom and dad. I have vowed to pass along their precious stories, their life lessons, and of course their recipes to my kids so that they can keep alive the memories of their Nonno and Nonna with their own families.

I plan to share pictures and stories of the treasures I come across as I go through their house so I can keep my parents close at heart and I feel it will be therapeutic for me as life moves forward to the next stages. I would love to hear your stories of how you have coped with the loss of a parent and any advice you may have.

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