My Father Was a Wonderful Mother

Memories of a nurturing parent bring joy and pain.

Posted Jun 01, 2015

Source: mxruben/morgueFile

My father loved to plant things and watch them grow. He planted roses that twined on a split-rail fence, French strawberries tiny as gumdrops, and pears that ripened like big-bottomed ladies. He nurtured his garden, just as he did his children. There was no better way for me to connect with him after he died than through the bounty of the season. So I went to the produce truck in my neighborhood, bought flowers, fruits and vegetables and made an altar to his memory.

Throughout his Brooklyn boyhood, Dad had dreamed of creating a garden. He’d worked out a payment plan with NYU before the days of student loans, become a doctor, married his sweetheart, had three children, and made it to Long Island. On weekends he puttered in the backyard to warbles and waterfalls instead of the El train that had ricocheted past the second-floor window of his childhood bedroom like a wildcat dragging ten thousand tin cans.

In a corner of the garden, under a blue-green pine, Dad had planted a fiberglass tub, its rim camouflaged by deep green leaves of rhododendron and azaleas that blazed fuchsia and crimson in spring. Into the small hillside above the tub, he had sculpted terraces of flagstone, through which he’d threaded a black rubber hose, fash- ioning a loop that siphoned water up, thanks to a pump he had hidden under floating lily pads. With the flip of a switch, he heard the soothing sound of his handmade waterfall.

Writing prompt: What comes to mind when you think of your father?

Copyright (c) 2015 by Laura Deutsch