grandma, Mabel Reynolds Ostrander, and I shared one of
those special relationships as rare as a double rainbow.
She was fifty-three when I was ten. That’s when we
planted our first “Victory” garden together during
World War II. We planted seeds together—in the soil and
in each other.
lived eighty-seven seasons without a complaint. I was
forty-four when I last saw her. But I remember every mince
and lemon tart, every bite of “made from scratch”
apple pie, and every lingering wave of her hand as she
stood (out of sight or so she thought) behind the rayon,
Priscilla curtains in the little house at 718 West
Pennsylvania Avenue in San Diego, California, where I was
born and raised. As our station wagon full of kids and
contentment would slowly pull away from the curb, we would
all look back at her and wave—and I would gaze at her
fragile silhouette through the rear view mirror, wishing I
could frame her there forever, just that way—wondering
how many more Easter and Christmas dinners we would share.
of all, I remember my grandma and me planting seeds. We
planted squash, beans, corn, watermelons, beets, pansies,
mums and other flowers. I’ll admit I rode my bike those
twenty miles each Saturday more for the bonus of the
conversation and the homemade pastries than for the
vegetables and flowers.
But no matter how full I was after
I ate, I was always left hungry for more of the wisdom and
optimism she shared with me.
never forget the day we tasted our first harvest as a
result of crossing a plum tree with an apricot tree. The
ripe fruit was pink, not purple like a plum, nor orange
like an apricot; but a combination of both. “Gee, do you
suppose they’ll be any good?” I asked. “Why of
course they will be wonderful,” she chided. “Didn’t
we do the planting, nurturing and pruning?”
enough, they were delicious, even though they were
different than any fruit I’d ever seen before.
“That’s because they are uniquely unlike any other
fruit you’ll ever eat. They are plumcots!” she
exulted. “You always get out what you put in,” she
continued as we sat under the tree eating most of what we
apple seeds and you get apple trees, plant acorns and you
get majestic oak trees, plant weeds and you will harvest
weeds (even without watering), plant the seeds of great
ideas and you will get great individuals,” she said
softly and intently, looking directly into my eyes. “Do
you understand what I mean?” I nodded, remembering I’d
heard her say the same thing before, in different ways.
learned from my grandma that the seeds of greatness are
not special genes, dependent on the gifted birth, the
inherited bank account, the intellect, the skin-deep
beauty, the race, the gender, or the status. The seeds of
greatness are attitudes and beliefs that begin in children
by observing, imitating and internalizing the lifestyles
of significant role models and heroes.
your thoughts and actions after men and women who have
been passionate, excellent, honest, unselfish and creative
in their service to others,” my grandmother had
counseled. Armed with that affirmation, I ventured forth
to sow and reap my own legacy in life.
traveled the world to the seven seas.
I’ve been up at the top and down on my knees.
I’ve been blessed with abundance and plenty of weeds.
But I’ve never stopped caring about others’ needs.
you tend your own garden, unlike any other,
Remember the words of my lovely grandmother.
“If you’re hoping to harvest a life of great deeds,
Remember you first have to plant some great seeds.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Reproduced with permission from the Denis Waitley
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