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Digging Canals for the Mama

Several days ago, the Mama fell twice as she was watering her vegetables. I didn't see either fall, but fortunately she told me about each one just after it happened.

I had gone out to give her a juice drink. It was a hot day and my mission was to keep her hydrated whether she liked it or not.  As I waited for her to gulp her drink (Sipping? No such thing when she's on a task), she mentioned that she was wet because she slipped and fell on top of the beans. If she hadn't said anything, I wouldn't have noticed she was wet. When I looked at the beans, I couldn't tell that anything was wrong. The woman is that light.

"Here, let me finish watering," I said, reaching for the hose.

"No, I can do it," she said, swerving away from me.

After three times of going back and forth, I let it go. After nine years of living with her, I have finally learned to choose my battles. Assured that she hadn't hurt herself, I went back inside to work.

About 45 minutes later, I was back outside with a cup of water and her medicine. (She knows that she has to take it at noon, but when she's outside working on something, she won't stop to come inside for medicine. See, this is the advantage of working at home for me.) Mama was now sitting down as she watered her flowers.

"I do that when I water this section," I said, handing the cup of water to her. Out of her whole backyard of vegetable and flower gardens, she lets me water a small part of the yard.

"I'm almost finished," she said, as she wiped a hand on her pants and held it out for her pill.

"I'll water the chayote this afternoon," I said. "When it's cooler."

She nodded. Then she said, "I fell on the onions. That's why they're flat."

"What? You fell again."

She nodded.

I put my hand on the hose. "Let me finish watering."

"No. No. This is it. This is the end."

"Why are you falling so much?" I asked.

She shrugged. I walked around her garden, noticing the muddy patches around the rows. Something had to be done. She waters her garden by hand, which means she drags the hose behind her as she walks on the uneven soil between the rows. She's fine when she's not impatient or tired. Sigh.
I don't want to take over watering her garden until it's absolutely necessary. I don't think that time is here yet.  Her garden is her domain. Her sense of peace. Her last sense of independence. I saw how depressed and angry she got when her brothers took over her garden many years ago. The Mama will be nine years shy of 100 soon. Gardening makes her happy and keeps her strong and healthy. I want her to to do it as long as she is able. 

"I'm going to dig the canals deeper," I said.

"No,"she said. "I'm okay."

"I don't want you to fall."

"I fall, I fall."

"You can break your leg or something. You know you don't want to go to the hospital."

Silence. I took that as a good sign.

"With deeper canals, you can make the water go slower. The vegetables will get more water that way. You know, the way Daddy did it. Remember."

Still silence. I proceeded to dig the first canal. I am my Daddy's daughter. I not only went with him to the fields that he irrigated, but I also helped him put up his garden every year when he got older. I enjoyed digging those canals for the Mama, even though it was a hot day. I liked getting my hands dirty as I dug and molded the canals, and then later getting them muddy as I guided the water through the canals. I quite understand the Mama's love of working and being outside.

So, now, if the Mama is willing to be patient, she can sit on her stool and watch the water go down each vegetable row, helping it along as needed. It may not stop her from falling in the backyard completely, but maybe it will be fewer times.  I can only hope.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.


  1. On some level she must be terrified of what is happening to her ... and, it's always wise to choose your battles!

  2. Widdershins, most definitely to both. She's so good at not showing emotions. But, at least she expresses a lot more her discontent at what is.


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Thanks for the good cheer. :-)

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