SHARING and CARING…it’s what LIFE is all about!

My Father’s Garden

Posted by on Jun 20, 2015 in Blog, Family, Memories | 3 comments

Spring awakening of my father’s rose garden.

Father’s Day is a special time to honour our dads. My father is in heaven and I’m left with only memories…like his garden.
When spring arrived each year, my father would head for the backyard, rake and shovel in hand ready to unearth the “sleeping beauties,” as he would call his roses. As a young teenager on the threshold of discovering boys, I had no interest in his prickly flowers, wanting only to avoid the bees that rested on their petals to drink their nectar. I paid little attention to the planning, digging and sweating that my father endured to create his masterpiece. I was oblivious to his thorough study of the best hybrids, the climbers, the newest, the oldest, the sturdiest. I cared little that those roses claimed his ceaseless attention at their birth, and required equally as much time to maintain their good health over the life of my father, for it was he who died long before his roses.

The roses inhabited the very centre of our yard—for I did call it a yard and not a garden because their enchantment eluded me. They had not only been placed in the centre of the yard, but they had become the focal point of all who came to visit, either to admire them or to claim some of what they offered. In my youth I believed gardens required a breathless wonder in their beauty, and our garden lacked both wonder and beauty, unless of course you saw the roses through my father’s eyes. In time I learned to do that, but the understanding came too late.

A white arbour arched the t-shaped garden, adding not only character to the garden but a landing for birds and butterflies. And on either side of the ‘t’ sat two birdbaths offering summer swims after the dust of the ground had removed any fleas and ticks. Floribundas, grand floras and hybrid teas either climbed the arbour, clustered at its base, or stood independently, not requiring the aid of the arbour to trumpet their beauty. It was as though they knew my father would meet all their needs. They were often covered with white powder, faithfully applied to discourage unwelcomed insects vying for the nourishment that the roses needed. If they were thirsty, they would hang their heads and my father would attend to them as if they had called his name. When weeds threatened to invade their space and choke out their purpose for life, he would tirelessly rake and hoe until the threat was gone. Then, as though they were smiling and thanking him, the roses would hold their heads high or spiral across the top of the arbour, grateful for his attention and love. For he did love them. As the sun and water supplied their strength and moisture, their beauty was multiplied until the last rose of summer lost its petals, was left as a barren stump and went to sleep for the winter.

The unleashed artist in my father built a patio directly behind the house, below my bedroom window. He carefully molded and shaped individual sections that set the frame for the concrete, colouring each section a different colour. Smooth and vibrant in its own right, the patio was edged with a bouquet of flowers that filled the front rockery and enveloped the steps that gently led to my father’s roses. And it was beautiful!

There was a tree at the end of the yard, its trunk surrounded by a stone wall and bench, and there was another patio under that tree. And there was a fish pond and waterfall in the corner that drew the attention of racoons that wandered by at night looking for an easy dinner.  All this was done later, after I’d married and moved away, but I took with me memories that were sweet: The hula hoop contests, the endless supply of Dairy Queen sundaes and milk shakes, the BBQ constantly cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, the smell of freshly cut grass, the chasing after Rex, our determined cocker-poo who would squeeze under the fence…and the rose garden in the centre of the yard around which we had to play ball.

Then one day it stormed.

Cancer invaded our home, and the roses and the patios and the fish pond felt the pain of neglect. As my father lay in the shade of the tree at the end of the yard, beside his pond, in full view of his roses, I brought home his second grandchild. I watched my father’s face as I laid my two week old son in his arms and agonized with him. My father died three weeks later, two and a half years after my wedding and fifty-four years after his own birth.

Whenever I think how my father relentlessly weeded and diligently groomed his creation lovingly and faithfully attending his garden, I consider how our Heavenly Father is our personal Gardener throughout life. He removes the ugly weeds that would choke our growth, provides nourishment from the Living Water, and supplies all our needs— not our wants—through his Son. With a love that goes beyond human understanding, He prunes, He shapes and He softens our rough edges to make us a masterpiece unlike any other.

The Creator of all that encompassed my father’s garden—the roses, the birds, the butterflies, even the racoons—no doubt smiled at my father’s attentive care and yet ached at his choice to ignore Him, for my father had “left his first Love,” he’d turned his back on God (Rev. 2: 1-7). As I consider this, I am reminded afresh of how God controls the wind and the rain, the sun, the moon and the stars and yet stands with open arms ready to receive His prodigals. My heavenly Father is a God who loves unconditionally, and this thought will be engraved forever in my memory from having witnessed my father’s return to his first Love seven days before he saw his Gardener face to face.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8




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  1. Heather

    Absolutely beautiful tribute to your father, Ruth. I appreciate the verses you mention that remind us of our heavenly Father’s loving tender care. It is written right from the heart with such love, depth, and truth. Beautiful <3 A blessing!

    • Ruth Waring

      Thanks, Heather. I always appreciate your input in my writing.

      My siblings received a ‘special’ invitation (via an email) to read about our father from my perspective and memory. Our journey with Dad wasn’t always the greatest, however I chose to remember the more pleasant times. My older brother emailed the following to me. I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing it for you and others to see:
      Dear Ruth,
      Thanks for the great tribute to Dad. It was goood to read about him and see him through your eyes. I know I wasn’t around much during the latter part of dad’s life, but he will always hold a special place in my heart and memory. Congratulations on being a great author and the person you are. Love Doug.

      • Heather.

        Ah, how great that you focused on the positive and in turn are a blessing to other readers.. God’s love shines through you. Doug’s response is like receiving a warm loving hug. Very special.

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