My mother is in her mid eighties. Last Saturday morning, my extended family gathered in her backyard. We were all there; my 8 brothers and sisters along with our in-laws, nieces and nephews. Bearing shovels and rakes, we were dressed in grubby jeans and T shirts. Our mission that day was to beautify her garden.

“Be sure to keep hydrated everyone” My mother proclaimed as she set two 12 packs of mineral water on the picnic table. A spry grandmother with silver hair, she wore a flowered top and Khaki shorts. As the sun rose in the sky, my three broad-shouldered brothers began digging holes for new rosebushes. “Mom, where do you want the climbing vines?” My brother Terry asked. In his mid-forties, Terry stood about 6 foot 2 and wore a baseball jersey.

Country music played from a radio in the garage. My three sisters, all of them wearing sunglasses, began pulling weeds. “Lunch is at noon” Kathy called out from the kitchen window. The most domestic of my sisters, she was making chili and cornbread. My little nieces waved to her as they helped me plant marigolds.

As the day wore on, we trimmed rose bushes and tossed prickly branches into the trash. Sweat poured from our brows as we tucked seedlings into the soil. Soon Mom’s backyard was transformed into a sanctuary of blooming geraniums, impatience and petunias.

After a mid-afternoon lunch at the picnic table, my brother Terry got up and asked: “Where’s Mary?”

“She’s in the garage…On the shelf above the lawn mower.” My mother replied.

With that, we all began gathering ceremoniously around a hedge of rosebushes.

Soon, Terry emerged from the garage carrying a white statue of Mary made of solid stone.

We took off our sunglasses as he carefully placed Mary in her usual perch next to the rosebushes. Then, like every year, we all began singing an off key rendition of the Halleluiah chorus.

My mom grinned.

“I think Mary likes that spot…” she said.

The day was complete. Now we could all go home. Mary had taken her rightful place in my mom’s garden.

“They will be like a well-watered garden…” Jeremiah 31:13

Copyright 2012 Nancy Jo Sullivan