As I watched the slideshow of family photos at my father-in-law's funeral on Saturday, July 18, I saw photos of Donn with the sunflowers he'd grown along the back of the barn or later, around the flagpole. It was before my time so I never saw those gardens, but they were his thing, a fact reflected in the sunflowers in the flower arrangements around his casket and the sunflower bouquets his great-granddaughters laid at his grave.
That's when I realized it had become Dwayne's thing, without him even realizing he was picking up where his father left off. We inherit a lot of traits and habits from our parents, some good, some bad, but planting sunflowers is definitely a good one.
So I decided to paint a sign dedicating this year's sunflower garden to Dwayne's father. The sign says, Donn Mattinson Memorial Sunflower Garden.
At bedtime on the night of the funeral, I was reading a few pages from "The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver", and came across How Would You Live Then? Although the whole poem is a must-read, the final lines in particular made me think of my father-in-law:
You painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
and every day -- who knows how, but they do it -- were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?"
~ Mary Oliver