A week ago, I finally found peace at my Mother’s house through taking pictures of her garden. Before that I never felt comfortable staying the night after I initially left her house to be on my own. For the first time, I used the camera to express my feelings about my childhood home.
My Mother singlehandedly transformed the space to conform to her vision. What was once some grass and bushes with a trash-strewn space up top, became a neat, well-ordered mix of ornamental trees, bushes and flowers. My father rarely helped which caused my Mother a lot of sorrow. One day when he decided to help and mow the lawn, he died. I still feel a layer of sadness throughout the space.
After my father left us, my mother continued to augment what she had already started. One day she took me to a local nursery. The owner greeted my Mother warily as she entered the establishment. In front, stood a giant stone lantern.
“It’s not for sale,” said the owner, a middle-aged woman with a care worn face. “I know you asked me before, and my answer is the same. It’s not for sale.” The owner’s husband had recently passed away. This lantern was his last piece and the widow did not want to part with it.
“I lose my husband too,” said my Mother in broken English. “Why can’t you sell to me?” These words convinced the woman that my Mother’s garden was the right place for her late husband’s work. Twenty-eight years later, the lantern leans heavily, surrounded by lush greenery. I chose photographing the detail, it just had more meaning to me.
But all is not sadness in my Mother’s garden. Birds and other wildlife peacefully co-exist with my Mother and stepdad. A pair of Dark-eyed Oregon Junco’s even nested in one of her hanging flower pots.
One by one as I developed these images, I let go of the emotion as it had been captured in the photographs. I’m at peace now with the past and enjoy the beauty of the present that is my Mother’s garden.