The Cultivator

Apr 17, 2020 | Family Life | 0 comments

A little over a week ago, we lost my mother-in-law. She had been diagnosed with melanoma last June. Shortly after her diagnosis, we sat on her idyllic patio, the sun bathing us in its warmth, and cried. We cried for a life that would be cut too short. We cried for the times we would no longer be able to share. We cried for memories with grandkids that would not materialize. It was a poignant moment that resonates with me today. In the silence, I vowed to help carry on her legacy.

One of the difficulties of losing a loved one during these unprecedented times is the inability to gather with loved ones and eulogize her as she deserved. There is a looming sense of unfinished business–a lack of closure. Hence, we seek ways to honor her on other platforms.

Barb’s legacy is cultivation. I will strive to cultivate as she did–from children, to gardening, to cooking, to feeding, to creating a sense of beauty, to entertaining, to gathering friends and family. Cultivation is putting others’ needs ahead of yours in order to boost them up. It is giving.

Barb’s skills in the kitchen were superb. She knew just how to flavor foods. I often helped her taste the recipe before the product was complete. This was a gift in itself. She did her best to teach us her recipes over the past few years, so we can share our love for others by cooking for them.

Barb created beautiful spaces in the home and outside in her gardens. When you were in her home, you felt special. She brought in flowers and thoughtful art. She created cozy seating where all could gather. She cultivated an environment that drew you back in, so you could enjoy the beauty.

Barb could take a blank slate outside and imbibe it with layers of pavers, fountains, grasses, espaliered trees, planters with crazy fronds coming out this way and that, and cozy fire pits. Friends and family were drawn to these serene spaces where they talked, played, and enjoyed each other’s company.

Barb encouraged games. And, it wasn’t just “Let’s play bingo.” Rather, bingo came with prizes, wagers–elevating the excitement. Birthdays and other milestones were celebrated with gusto. Pig roasts, live jazz bands, mouth watering dinner spreads, tiki torches, and seasonally appropriate floral arrangements all cultivated joy.

Barb tuned into the talents of others. She then sought to support their pursuit of those talents. She gave financial support to her grandchildren for their lessons, drove her daughter to Irish dance lessons and then traveled around the world for competitions, encouraged her son in his academics, supported her husband’s very successful career, and always listened with interest when we talked about our professional endeavors.

One of many thoughtful gifts (with and important message) from Barb

Barb was the most thoughtful of gift givers. She always had the next birthday or holiday in mind when she came across an item that she knew would bring delight to the receiver. She made you feel cared for. She paid attention to your interests, your needs. She was generous.

She instilled a sense of confidence in others. She was no-nonsense. She taught us to keep going despite difficult times. It is a message that will serve us well as we move forward these next few months.

I plan to cultivate a setting to help my kids and others get through this time and in the future. I will not always be perfect, but I will lift my head high and keep going in honor of Barb.

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