21: My Gardening Angel

21: My Gardening Angel

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

My Gardening Angel

In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.

~Dodinsky

There I stood at my local nursery’s annual flower show between displays of fragrant roses and delicate lilacs, taking in their sweet scents. The flower show had always been one of the highlights of my year. Mom and I would attend together, looking to the various displays for inspiration for our own summertime gardens. Afterward, we would stroll through the amply filled greenhouse, making plans for the upcoming season and purchasing our supplies.

Now, though, everything was different. Mom had passed away the year before and this year, only a few weeks earlier in fact, I had unexpectedly lost my longtime job. I was barely over Mom’s passing and now I was at another difficult juncture. As I walked through the aisles of blooming flowers and potted vegetable plants, I felt dazed. My brief job search had proven fruitless. It hadn’t taken long to discover that I would not be able to find the same type of position I had enjoyed for the same amount of pay without finishing my college degree. I had two years of schooling behind me and longed to earn my degree. Yet, with all my other responsibilities that proved a difficult undertaking. In the past, I had made several failed attempts to return to college. Now, I asked myself what I should do: take a lower paying position, or return to college for the next two years.

Mom would have helped me think this through, just like she always helped guide me toward the healthiest plants for my garden. My mother had a special way of picking up on signals that certain plants showed. The turn of a leaf, the thickness of a stem, or the color of a bud were all signs to Mom. Now I wished she could send me a sign about which option was best for me. Well, I decided, I’ll have to figure this out on my own.

Still pondering my decision, I pulled a rosebud toward me and sniffed. Instead of the usual sweet scent I expected, there was an acrid but familiar odor. I walked a few feet and stuck my nose into a patch of usually fragrant wildflowers only to inhale the same very unpleasant odor. Suddenly, I placed the scent: my mother’s hairspray. She always used a large amount to keep her fine hair in place. I often joked that I knew when she had been in a room, because the smell of that product lingered long after she had left.

I looked around. “Mom, are you here?” I asked. The scent became overwhelming and then just as suddenly subsided. Immediately, I felt as if I were directed to go straight home and fill out my college application.

As I drove home, I questioned the possibility of receiving a sign. Probably, I knew deep down that college was the right track for me, and my sudden leaning in that direction had nothing to do with Mom at all. Yet, when I sat down later that evening and filled out the college application, I received undeniable proof that Mom had guided me. The day of orientation was to be held on May 18th — the anniversary of Mom’s passing. I went on to earn my degree with a 4.0 average and I have no doubt that Mom’s encouragement was with me every step of the way.

~Monica A. Andermann

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