weathered basket

With my mom's weathered gardening basket in hand, I stepped out my front door. It had not been used in over ten years. Not since my mom began to lose her sight. The last time I held it was a month after her passing, when I packed her belongings away.

Compelled to plant, I whispered, "Mom, can you join me." I headed to the spot in my yard where nothing grew, not even a dandelion. "Let's see if we, together with your God, can make something grow on this dead ground. Maybe your God will hear my request. I'm going to plant what grows, but often goes unseen."

Only mom's God knew why this crazy idea came over me or why nothing grew in that spot. In my desire to test God, I trusted what my mom would often say, "God is the one that makes things grow into beautiful, useful, encouraging things. When he gives you an idea, treat it like a seed. He will reveal the place to plant it. He will make it grow. All you need to do is obey, watch, and wait."


An hour before, I stood by my living room window and cupped my steaming Chai tea. As I sipped its warmth it took me back to when I was barely five. A time when my small hand in Mom's hand created a sweaty heat matching the hot Louisiana summer day.

We walked down the country road. I looked up at her face. Focused on the road ahead, her eyes shined like when she prayed with open eyes. She was on a mission, to find material to make a basket she couldn't afford to buy. I had to take two steps to my mother's one step to keep up. We soon arrived at our nearest neighbor's house. After a deep breath, she knocked on the farmhouse's white door.

A large lady wearing a purple dress and flowery apron greeted us with a smile. I was enamored by the small sticks fanning out like a crown from her hair bun. She exclaimed, "Martha, what a surprise. Come in."

We followed her into a room filled with many baskets. A few were filled with sticks, colorful ribbons, yarn, and strips of material. But many were empty. The afternoon sun rays fell on piles of reeds on the floor. They had been organized by length and width.

My mother squeezed my hand before letting it go. Shocked, I stood still because she never released my hand in any place filled with wonderful things to explore. I glanced her way. She stared at the pile of reeds.

The lady whom I had known as Basket Queen wiped her hands on her apron, raised my chin, winked at me, then looked at my mother. "What brings you and your beautiful daughter to my home?"

My mom quickly responded, "Since I can't afford your baskets. I was wondering if I could buy some reeds from you." She held out a bucket between them. Her rosy cheeks deepened in color, much like when Dad would come home. "I have six eggs, two loaves of bread, homemade huckleberry jam and a small jar of honey."

The Basket Queen caressed her chin, walked around the room, then stopped when she came before me. "Let me see. What would three eggs, two loaves of bread, jam and honey buy?" She lifted the corner of her apron, wiped her sweaty forehead and something that looked like a tear from the corner of her right eye. "What size of basket would you like to make?" She asked my mom.

"One that will carry my gardening tools and produce from my garden. I heard the reeds your husband brings you weather well. I would like to make one that will last for my daughter to carry once she gets a bit older." My mother set the pail down. With a soft voice she said, "Mary Sue, everyone in town knows your baskets last a lifetime. And I . . . would like to leave something behind for my daughter when I'm . . ." Without finishing her thought, she wiped the corners of her eyes with her fingertips.

Being her only child and having me at a late age, my mom worried about suddenly passing like my father.

We walked home singing Amazing Grace. While I swung the empty pail, my mother held reeds in her arms like a baby. I hadn't seen her this happy since before dad became ill from cancer.

My baby kicked and caused the memory to fade. The grassless spot at the left corner of the yard seemed to float to me. I felt cold and abandoned. A bare spot in my heart had developed where once joy bloomed from gardening with my mom. Today it's a desert. I didn't understand why. I placed my cup beside my father's and mother's photo. I picked up the frame, kissed them, then placed the frame back on the side table. I stretched my back and paced around my simple living room.

I recalled what my mom had said when she moved in with my husband and me, "Lynzee, you live in a mini modern museum." She understood my simple style of living with little furniture and my large frames of art on the walls. Even though her sight had gone dim, she could still make out shapes.

Her last summer with us, she would often complain of our home being cold like winter. Often, she sat facing the living room window, wrapped in her comforter, and cried silently. Her tears would end when I would sit with her. She would then talk about all the beautiful flowers she could no longer see. On her last day, my mom held my hand and said, "I will not be able to see the most beautiful flower, my grandchild."

Oh mom, how did you make it? It must have been difficult raising me alone. I fear raising my child even though Marcos and his family are here to help me. You were without anyone. Yet never did I hear you talk about the challenges, only the blessings. If only I could be more like you, then I know I'll be a great mom for my child, like you were for me.

I caressed my belly. Mom, if only you could feel the kicks of your granddaughter. I wish you could be with me during her delivery next month.

This was the moment the thought of planting something that often goes unseen came to mind. A yearning for my mother's basket bloomed in the desert part of my heart. "Where is it?" I went to the hall's closet which housed mom's belongings, the ones I couldn't let go of. I found the basket. I went to the back patio, took my gardening tools out of a plastic container. I wiped the spider webs off my tools and placed them in my mom's weathered basket.

I made my way to the curve along the patch of dirt lined with red bricks. A small angel statue that I had placed there warmed my heart. It was a tribute to my mom for being an angel to many

Mom, part of my heart is much like this section of the yard where nothing grows. I placed the angel here hoping that your beliefs in your God would make the grass grow again. Maybe then I could rejoice in gardening without you. It sounds foolish, but maybe I should try what you did when things didn't grow in our garden the summer after my senior year. You prayed.

But prayer is foreign to me. Talking to a God, whom I don't see, seems useless. Yet, a week after you prayed, our sunflowers grew. They became huge and flamboyant with their deep rich red, orange and golden colors. People were in awe. They wanted your secret. You told them, "prayer." They laughed. I laughed too. But not in front of you. I'm sorry. Your faith, your hope, and the love you had for God are things I still lack.

Today, I'm planting the things that grow and are often not seen, faith, hope and love.

I knelt on the dirt and made three deep holes. I looked at the sky. The puffy clouds of Texas reminded me of wishes. As a child, I often imagined riding on large puffy clouds wanting to go places we couldn't afford.

On my knees, I spoke out loud. "I wish to know the God that my mom believed in." I captured some air, and then with my cupped hand, placed it in the first hole and said, "This air is the faith my mom had. It is not seen, yet it is felt. That is what she would tell me." I covered the hole.

With my hands raised I grabbed sunrays, dropped them in the second hole and spoke as I covered the hole, "These sunrays are full of hope. They give power to things that grow and soon can be seen, if only one takes time to notice them." Mom, I can't believe I remember these words. They are being unearthed from the desert part of my heart. Something is happening within me. I feel something strange. I must finish the last step.

With my hands over my heart, I said, "I take part of my love for my mother and father which is within me. I bury this love here. Only for one day to be returned to me with an understanding of how to love God the way my mother and my father did."

Suddenly a song I hadn't heard in a long time came to mind.

On my feet I swayed to, "My Little Girl." My father sang it to me in the last year of his life.

"Hello Lynsey. You're acting a bit strange out here. Are you feeling alright?" My curious neighbor, the one who knew the answer but still asked the question, stopped me from twirling.

I grinned and said, "I've been filled with such happiness much like a little girl. I haven't felt this way since I lived in Louisiana." I hugged her and told her, "I love you, Sue. I really do. I never knew I loved you."

"I love you too." She told me and hugged me tight.

I pulled away and asked, "You know answers before you ask questions. Answer this, why am I so happy?"

She smiled and replied, "I saw you praying. I believe God has heard your request."

I pointed up and told her, "Look at the sky. The clouds are full of wonder, delight, and hope."

My neighbor looked up. "You're correct. They're reflecting God's attributes."

I heard her but the daisies in my garden captured my attention. "Look, Look, Sue. The flowers are dancing to a song I can't hear. My mom would always say that daisies reminded her of God's faithfulness as they bloom year after year. Sue, I think there's a new melody playing softly in my heart."

"Lynsey, God has touched you. Your spirit hears his song." She held my hand and squeezed it before letting it go.

"I'm beginning to understand why my mom loved God so much."

"God loved your mother very much. He loves you in the same manner."

"This truth is filling me with glee. I feel as if I'm on the clouds traveling to a place that only a child can see."

Sue faced me and said, "That is faith. God has allowed you to experience faith like a child. By the way, what did you plant in your bald spot?"

"You'll think I'm crazy, but I planted faith, hope and love. And now I hope God will allow something to grow. Somehow, I feel certain, he will."

"Well, in this case I have three tulip bulbs. Why don't you plant them in faith, in hope and in love and watch them bloom." The phone in Sue's garden-apron pocket rang as she handed me the tree bulbs. She answered her phone, waved goodbye and crossed the street.

I went and unearthed the three holes and planted the tulips.


A month later, my husband helped me in the car. We backed out of the garage to head to the hospital. I screamed, "Stop."

He did

I opened my door.

Marcos asked, "What are you doing?"

"I can't believe what I see. Help me get out, please." I pointed to the angel statue.

He quickly got out of the car and came to help me.

Together, we walked to the bald spot. Three tulips had begun to bloom. The one where I had planted love was taller than the others. I then said, "Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." I held Marcos's hand and whispered, "God is real. He is really, real. He made things grow where nothing has grown in years."

On the way to the hospital, I told my mom, I believe I'll be a great mother like you were for me. I understand now. Faith, hope, and love are seeds from God. He planted them within me. He will grow them in me. He will help them bloom. I will take your weathered basket and teach my little girl what you taught me. One day your weathered basket will be hers.

"Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."

- 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT