“Today, fill your cup of life with sunshine and laughter.” Dodinsky
On a cloudless day in April, when my son Julian was four-years-old, I took him outside with me to do some gardening. Standing next to me, he cocked his head to the side, a toy shovel in his hands. Slowly, I pulled on my gardening gloves. Then the two of us stood still, staring down at the ground above my second son’s grave.
“What are we supposed to be doing again, Mama?”
I squatted down to his height, pulling a flowering weed out of the dirt. “What do you see when you look at this?” I asked, holding the weed up for his inspection.
“A flower,” he smiled, “a very pretty flower!”
“Yes, it looks like a flower, doesn’t it?” I agreed. “But it’s actually a weed. And these little weeds are growing everywhere in our yard.”
“Yup. I can see them, Mama. They’re everywhere.”
“So, today, Mommy needs your help pulling these weeds out of the ground. That way, we’ll keep the yard looking nice and clean, and the ground above your brother’s grave will look good again.”
I showed Julian a few more examples, then told him to put the weeds that he pulled into the wheelbarrow. Joyfully, he went to work–work that was “interrupted” about every thirty seconds, or so.
“Look, Mama! I pulled one!” The first weed was shoved into my face.
“And this one too!” Another weed in my face. “See how pretty it is?”
“Hey!” This one actually hit my face. “Look at this one!”
He was a happy gardener–a slow one–but happy, never-the-less. He was also a gardener who needed constant reinforcement. “Wow! Super job!” I said, again and again. Finally, after going over the rules one more time–that Julian was to put the weeds directly into the wheelbarrow, instead of bringing them all to me–he grew quiet, and seemed to be doing just that. Until…
I looked up, several “flowers” nudging my face.
“For you, Mama,” he held out a bouquet of weeds. “These are so beautiful. They’ll make you smile.”
Which was how a vase full of weeds founds its way to our kitchen table that afternoon. Because, when I could see only weeds…Julian saw roses.
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