GENDUSA COLUMN: Only white gladiolas for Grandpa

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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I stood in front of the kitchen sink gazing out my grandmother’s (aka Grandpa’s) window. The garden was splendid in its full summer glory. Dew settled on the corn stalks, green beans and plump red tomatoes while two rows of gladiolas reached toward heaven. 

“Grandpa, why do you only grow white gladiolas each year? You know they come in different colors, right?” I teasingly questioned and continued, “Your favorite color is pink, so why not grow pink flowers?

“Well, I don’t like any other color for my gladiolas. White is majestic, spiritual and holy. I take them to the church to be used in the sanctuary during the summer. Also, have you noticed how they seem to be reaching toward heaven?” 

As we both viewed the garden, the tall stalks did seem as if they wanted to reach the pearly gates.  

“Honey, all things, including people, grow upward toward God. Everything is meant to rise from seeds, to create beauty and joy for him.” 

Today, I look out my window and see the tree limbs swaying in the summer breeze, the flowers still in bloom, and I recall the days when Grandpa taught me the simple meaning of life. We are here to rise, reach for God, and create joy for all, just like the white gladiolas of summer.

Like most mountain folks I knew, Grandpa lived life simply. Today, we create many complicated days. We wear ourselves thin by overreaching for success in all things. Our kids need to be successful winners and our homes should be mansions. Often, we strive for happiness by obtaining treasures and being entertained, but such pleasure is fleeting. We all know the more we accumulate, the more we want. Not all of which is necessarily bad, but too much sparkle can obscure the everlasting light we are meant to view.

Indeed, Grandpa’s garden brought our family tremendous delight. From the dinner table filled with fresh produce to laughter-filled watermelon feasts after church on Sundays. But it was not only the patch of Grandpa’s earth that reaped a harvest but also the love that grew within her soul.

Love today seems a bit underrated and undervalued. In truth, love causes us to evolve and become what we are to be. If we put love first, miracles happen. When we value others as much as we possibly can, we blossom.

By teaching our children and grandchildren about love, we honor God. We produce barren earth if we promote hatred, bigotry, and anger. How many stories and opinions do we read about making America greater? In truth, our country will not reach its full potential if we do not plant seeds of respect and kindness in our gardens.   

We rise when we realize love is the key to our growth as human beings. A baby can’t survive without tender care, nor will our world.  By displaying acts of love rather than vengeance, we rise together and produce a harvest for all.  

From violence in our streets to the deep fissures in America’s hearts, we see what a lack of love and sanctity for life can cause. If we want such evil to end, we should all attempt to put love back on the front burner and let it rise to reach great heights. 

It is not easy to put away our swords and our self-righteousness, but for the sake of others, including our young children, we need to clear our gardens of the thistles and thorns that attempt to harm us.

Some of you think, “That Lynn, she is just simple-minded and sentimental!”  Occasionally reality is blinded by complicated ‘stuff,’ and a garden can be choked and obscured by weeds. Often, we must pull the weeds, push the stuff aside, and see that deep beneath the earth is a tiny simple seed. And with love and care, it will rise to produce stunning beauty.

It was a cold February day when Grandpa left us. No garden was blooming, but my brother and I were determined to find her white gladiolas. The local florist located them and rushed them to Tennessee. We laid the basket of white flowers beside Grandpa’s grave. I looked through tears as the flowers seemed to reach heaven, where Grandpa rose to finally meet God.

 It was love that flew her there, and it is what remains with me today.