Our child was due the day after Thanksgiving 2005. That was November 25th and the day came and went without the slightest indication our child was ready to come into the world. We went to see the doctor on Monday and she said if nothing is happening by the end of the week my wife would be admitted to the hospital for inducement. Friday, December 2nd, my wife was admitted and we settled in.
I did not want to leave my wife's side. We set the cats up with plenty of food and water before we left so we made ourselves at home in our nice little room. With my wife in the bed and I in the chair that turns into a bed, I successfully cultivated the art of awkward sleeping.
It was Sunday before our son was born. It was 4:37 p.m. and watching my son being born was the most spiritually humbling things I will ever experience. Once he completely made his way into this world, there was not the usual crying you expect to hear. The doctor whispered something to one of the nurses and she left only to return with 5 or 6 other nurses. My wife was crying and we didn't know what was going on. It turned out my son was not breathing on his own and it was very tense in our little room for a few moments. Then, all of a sudden after a lot of prodding by the medical staff, my boy let out a huge wail. Oh thank God!
After that, things quieted down and it was suddenly 9 p.m. Both mom and son were fast asleep and my mother-in-law gave me the night off and sent me home. Upon arrival I noticed a basket of plants on the step. I took them in and realized quickly all but one was clinging to life. They must have been sitting outside since the day before. The one I knew would survive was the English ivy. Good old Hedera helix is a tough plant to say the least. I set the ivy in the kitchen sink, gave it a good drink and resolved to plant it before going back to the hospital in the morning.
As I planted H. Helix up in the morning, my thoughts were of my son and the scare he gave us. I prayed he would be strong and as I prayed I concentrated on the ivy. This plant is a symbol of strength and determination and so I decided right then and there I would grow this plant through the years and pass on some of its offspring to Andrew when he got his first house.
Following in Daddy's Footsteps
My son is now two and a half. He is my entire world and when together, he is right there by my side the whole time. He has already caught on how much I love my garden because of the amount of time I spend outside. Because he is my shadow, he needs to be right there with me all the time. He watches me and he loves to help. I deadhead; he does too with fresh flowers. That's okay. I encourage him all the same. I dig up some dirt; he removes a plant from a pot. "That's real good Andrew!" I tell him. "You are a big help to daddy". His smile and sense of accomplishment is priceless. Every day I try to direct his energy and he responds accordingly. He now fills his small pail of water and drenches the same plant over and over. He loves to do this. I do try and get him to water other plants but he seems to find a favorite and he will continue to water it again and again.
Every day I have with my son is a blessing. I could not be more proud. At this young age, he already has the makings of a great gardener. He has perseverance, determination and has a definite connection with all that I am trying to achieve with our bit of earth. As we go forward together, we will learn from one another as we take on new projects and lose ourselves in the ever changing world of gardening.
I know he will discover some favorite plants that he will insist upon having in his own garden one day. He will take joy in all the life gardening attracts. Through this he will help care for the wonderful world of living things. Through it all, in a shady corner of what will surely be among the grandest of gardens, there will grow some of the ivy plant I have tended to throughout the years. When he sees it, he will think of me and when I look at it in my own garden, I will think of him.
Dedicated with immeasurable love to my son Andrew
All photographs were taken by the author