These Days, Too, Have Passed

McKenzie’s garden.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY LINDA COOK DEVONA

McKenzie was the first to grace and bless my garden. As soon as I could, I brought this baby girl to my garden of refuge: refuge from anything, anything at all. I would dress her in little frou-frou skirts I made from lace curtains or from layers of net fabric. They appeared as soft as wings made from gossamer and as pure and white as the robes of an angel. These matched her immaculate soul.

She was my little shadow who followed me through the rows—if she felt like it. Most of her time, however, was spent dipping her tiny watering can into a five-gallon bucket of water. She gave a good soaking, mostly to the hay between the rows. If you want to keep a baby girl fully occupied and happy, give her a colorful watering can of her own, along with a nice, clean five-gallon bucket of water. Those very cost-efficient “toys” were the best babysitters of all time. Of course, my mindful eyes kept a diligent watch over her.

I will always see your little hands spilling your colorful pails of water.

As my baby girl grew and became more interested in the soil, plastic pails and shovels were her constant garden implements. She had her own spot in the garden and I let her do as she pleased. By the time she was three, green beans grew prolifically for her, and she quickly learned to pinch the beans off the vines instead of pulling all of them off the trellis. I found this to be remarkable. Those “magic beans” were oohed and aahed over by her proud parents whenever she brought some home—but mostly I cooked them for her lunches here.

Weeds grow fast—so did my McKenzie. She is now a gorgeous 18-year-old and a very busy teenager. She has a job, she’s getting ready for college, she has friends and fun. Yet she always makes time for me.

I know I can’t keep my children or grandchildren as little babies to be forever safe in my nest of happy times. I realize I can never go back home and become the young girl I once was, spending a cozy afternoon reading from Nancy Drew while a thunderstorm roared outside. But the older I’ve become, the more of these memories come flooding back, and I painfully miss the times spent with those I adore.

McKenzie, McKenzie, I miss you so much. Please grow up safely, and don’t be in too much of a hurry to leave your grandmother’s garden of happy memories. I will always see your little hands spilling your colorful pails of water—mostly where not one thing grew! Forever will your little fairy dresses be remembered by me, blowing in a gentle breeze. And the love you have so generously showered me with will remain deeply planted in my memory and burned into my soul. Please, never forget that I am the grandmother of our garden of wonder and awe, who has loved you more than any other grandmother ever could!


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