Daddy’s Garden

I grew up shelling butterbeans and field peas in the summertime. Last week, my husband brought in his first giant buckets of vegetables from this year’s garden. He lined up his tomatoes and cucumbers in long neat rows on the kitchen counter. “Thirty-three of each. Can you believe it?” He pointed to the bucket of peas.

“Uh-huh,” I said,  trying to remember how my grandmother froze tomatoes. And wondering how long it would take me to shell all those peas.

The next day I sat at the kitchen table shelling peas, my mind wandering through childhood summers. Mother called.

“What ‘cha doing?” she said. I told her.

“Reminds me of your daddy’s garden. Remember how much I hated it? Your daddy grew up with a garden and most folks in our neighborhood had one. Sometimes he worked in it by moonlight whistling, “Blueberry Hill” while I sulked inside the house.  For years I hated his garden. Until September of 1982. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The sun was broiling hot that day, but he never stopped smiling. The diagnosis didn’t seem to be a big deal to him. He got his bucket and said, ‘I’m going to pick butterbeans, and I said, ‘Let me go,’ and he said, ‘You don’t like picking butterbeans.’ But I wanted to more than anything in the world. So I did. Bugs and maybe a snake crawled by. It was so hot I had spots before my eyes, but I wouldn’t have left his side for anything. Finally he said, ‘That’s it.’ We went inside where it was cool and sat at the kitchen table drinking sweet tea and shelling butterbeans. That was the first time I’d ever shelled butterbeans with him. I told God I could do this for the rest of my life if He would just let your daddy live.”


A pause formed in the conversation.

Then she said, “He never stopped smiling shelling those butterbeans. Somewhere inside my heart I found the grace to smile with him.” My father died the following July.

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I decided to praise my husband and my Father for our glorious garden this year. “Plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.” Jeremiah 29:5 (KJ)




  1. Mike Roberts says:

    I liked this a lot ~

    • Julie says:

      Thank you so much, Mike. Means a lot that you read my posts.

  2. Patty Garner says:

    What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie says:

      Thank, friend Patty. Thanks so much. You’re such a cheerleader! I appreciate it.

  3. My Dad passed away this passed March and he loved planting gardens along with bushes all over the yard from cuttings. My Mom would wonder if she was going to have any grass left to walk around the yard in. But when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, she didn’t complain but loved watching him get out in the yard (while he could) and putter around. Now, watching those bushes grow and bloom with flowers is a wonderful reminder of the hobby my Dad loved. And, we can still hear his voice, so excited, when those cuttings did grow and bloom.

    Your story was beautiful, Julie and brought back this memory of my Dad.

    • Julie says:

      Oh, Eileen. Surely the Lord led me to write this today for you in memory of your sweet daddy. I’m so sorry, and I know a little about how you feel. My love to you. May God bless you and your family–especially your mom.

  4. Helen Barlow says:

    What a wonderful story. It immediately brought back memories to me of my grandmother and I sitting on the porch on a hot summer afternoon, snapping green beans. We would talk, laugh and cry during those summer evenings. Such wonderful memories I have of these days, and I sit back and wonder about the kids of today. They are on the computers, ipods, etc. and would think these days with my grandmother were boring. I wonder what there memories will.

    Thanks for this story, I really needed that today.

    • Julie says:

      What a beautiful memory, Helen. I soooo understand. Thanks for reading and especially for sharing. 🙂

  5. Love this J…love the photo of your dad and the memories…lessons from MBWA.

    I’ll take both with me and next time The Husband wants to watch a Sci-Fi movie I’ll cuddle with him and be so thankful we’re together…and that being together is enough.


  6. Julie Naegele says:

    This brought back a lot of memories of my parents’ gardens. We, too, helped snap beans and clean all the produce Mom and Dad would pick. My husband has started bringing in the vegetables from our garden and we are canning and freezing so much. I have to agree with the others that being together is the best part.

    God bless you for reminding us how important family is – whether we have a garden or not.

    • Julie says:

      Absolutely, Julie–whether you have a garden or not! Thanks for commenting. And reading. 🙂

  7. Pat Garczynski says:

    A beautiful, heartstrings article, Julie! I have been a widow 15 years and preparing to move out of the house I have lived in for 40 years. As I view my lovely yard extra sentimentally these days, I also remember how much I disliked my husband’s garden! Perhaps, today, we can paraphrase and say “In my Daddy’s (Father’s) house are many gardens (mansions).” Love to you from Michigan
    P.S. “Hello” to your Mom – I have followed her writing for years. Please keep us posted about your brothers as so many of us “stand in the gap” praying for children and grandchildren. I hope Gene is OK after the recent health scare Marion wrote about. I still have the article “Marion’s Marriage” tucked away in a drawer and in my heart.

    • Julie says:

      Hey, Pat. Such sweet words from you….In my Father’s house are many gardens. 🙂 I’ll tell Mom hi for you. Yes, Gene is great. Whatever he had passed. Mom’s good too. Bless your heart. You keep that article about her marriage in your drawer and in your heart. I’ll tell her. xoxo

  8. My father died from a brain tumor caused from melanoma that had spread throughout his body. He was not a gardener of fruits and vegetables but was a gardener of souls, as he was a pastor. He also loved working on computers and spent most of his free time exploring them. My mother often sulked over that. However, Dad used his hobby as a ministry and to this day there are times I wish I could ask him a computer or a Bible question. When my husband spends his free time wood-working or working in the yard, I just grin because I know it’s what makes him who he is.

    • Julie says:

      Hey Sherri. So sorry to hear about your father. I loved reading your comment–such beautiful words. You sound like such a wise lady~~~hugs to you and yours.

  9. Hey Jewels. I love this story…it reminds me to join in with my husband–just be with him enjoying this life God has given us together–whether I “love” his hobby/activity or not. Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie says:

      Thanks so much for reading, Cath…enjoying the life God has give us together. Beautiful words. Such a gift, isn’t it?

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