52 sundays; june 5, 2011

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” — Abraham Lincoln

I don’t really remember the year but I believe that at some point in the 1960s my grandparents set off to drive across the country from the little town of Walla Walla in Southwestern Washington State to somewhere in Florida . . . I don’t know how long it took them or where they stayed along the way. But I do know that at some point they stopped in Ohio . . . because they picked up this brick and upon their return home, my grandmother placed it in her garden. As a child, I had no idea where Ohio was, only that it was far, far away . . . but I did manage to notice that ‘Ohio’ had four letters, three of which were vowels and began and ended with an ‘o’ . . . which struck me funny for some reason . . .

My grandmother was quite the gardener – her yard was full of heady roses whose perfume would catch unsuspecting noses . . . then the eyes would hunt until they found it’s rightful owner. A large, circular rose garden in her front yard was her pride and joy and a bird bath held center court where birds were protected from prey. Gladioli, iris, pansies and snapdragons were all part of her landscape, placed as if Monet had meticulously painted them in their beds.

She grew vegetables as well and she had a couple of fruit trees; every fruit or vegetable was eaten in season or canned for the winter and when spring arrived, you would find her once again mowing the lawn, looking for pests and vigorously yanking up weeds. When my grandfather passed away, she stayed in that house and tended her gardens until she no longer could; the house was sold, the street was widened and the beautiful rose garden was plowed under. I haven’t been back home since my own father passed away almost 10 years ago but at that time, I remember driving by the house which had been such a significant part of my childhood and feeling very, very sad . . . not only was the rose garden missing, but the fruit trees had been cut down and the flower beds stood empty.

When grandma died, I knew I wanted that brick to place in my own garden; by that time, I actually knew where Ohio was although I had never traveled to the midwest. Funny how life plays tricks on us sometimes because I now live in the midwest and The Professor’s brother’s family live in Cincinnati . . . I have been to Ohio more times than I can remember! The brick now holds court in our zen garden – a peaceful place enclosed by a wood deck, a couple of ferns, a Japanese lantern and a water feature. I sit there with The Professor often and I think about my grandmother, about her gardens . . . and I understand her love for the smell of freshly turned dirt and the excitement of a budding new rose.

17 Comments

  1. What a beautiful post:) It only touched me a bit more because a part of my soul stayed in Ohio where we lived for ten years, and where two of my girls were born. I have never seen bricks with names, but I would love to have some that remind me of people and places. yes, we are both sentimental fools, I see:)
    I only wish we have met while I was still there, a couple of hours away:)

  2. A. love this post!

    B. love “name” bricks…we have 3: 1 with the name of the town where we used to live, one with the town we live in now, and 1 with my maiden name. (A neighbor had bricks lining her yard and I saw my maiden name!!! I didn’t know her, so I wrote a letter asking if I could have one.)

    C. great quote!

  3. Another beautiful post, Debra. I love your writing–you took me right to your grandmother’s garden with you. I’m so happy that you have her brick to carry on her tradition for your family.

  4. Oh Debra, what a wonderful story about your grandparents. I love Ohio for completely different reasons, and must admit I got a bit teary at your recounting of your grandmothers love of her garden.

    I love that they brought that brick back. I love that it weathered many years in a garden loved and cared for by your grandmother, and now rests in yours. However, what really makes me smile is the connection that simple brick makes between generations of family.

    I can imagine the stories that will be told of that brick in years to come. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. I love this story. What a perfect brick to serve as a reminder of your grandmother.

  6. Treasure that brick! GREG

  7. I just love stories about grandmothers, thank you for sharing. I also love that brick. I wonder whether they still make them…

  8. I absolutely love objects that tell a story and bring loved ones now long gone closer. A beautiful tale and a very cool brick! xo

  9. abby dodge

    Lovely, lovely lovely! It makes me think of my own homes throughout my life and the gorgeous smells and sites that tug on my heart.. Whenever I smell boxwood, I think of home and my Mom.. Thanks Debra.. your piece is #soulfood

  10. What a special way to remember your grandmother, it’s a beautiful addition to the garden.

  11. What a beautiful memory to have Debra – it is so nice that you now have the “Ohio” brick in you own garden. It must bring back sweet memories every time you look at it amidst your own plants and flowers.

  12. Nice piece Deb. My grandma kept pink flamingos in her gardern….giggles. I do however have the big dinner bell that was the real centerpiece of my grandparents dalia garden. Thanks for sharing.

  13. What a sweet memory to have…I also have such fond memories of my grandma. I recently did a post about her and used Google to get a picture of the only home she and my grandfather lived in. It was so different; I know that sadness. But I am lucky to have her with me in the kitchen; I do have her rolling pin which must be close to 100 years old now…so that is the legacy I treasure while still trying to understand why anyone would paint brick white!

  14. What a sweet and wonderful post. Your grandmother would be so pleased to see her brick in such a happy place

  15. What great memories of yours! And they just brought back a lot of great memories for me as a child, too. My grandmother grew the exact same types of flowers. My favorites were the pansies (and still are) because each of them had little faces. It was like a bunch of little smiling faces that greeted everyone as they walked through her front door. And I loved to pick a snapdragon flower and make it “snap” as I held it between my thumb and forefinger. Thanks for walking me down memory land, too!

  16. Beautiful post! I completely understand and have a rock from our family cattle ranch. It feels like it weighs 100 pounds but it moves with us everywhere and sits in our garden. Always a little piece of home with us even though we live only 40 minutes away these days.

  17. I remember and miss my Grandmother’s garden. She had a fountain too. It is sad.
    I have never gone back to where she lived. It is in Mich. I do have things that belonged to her, but I miss her. Great brick. I live in Ohio

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