While my dad was away in the Navy during World War II, I planted my first flower garden.
I was 8 years old and missed him very much.
I knew he was stationed in England and that he was gone a very long time, but I didn’t understand much about the war—or gardens, for that matter.
Even at home, World War II was always present. We lived on the main road through town, and I remember watching the convoys—a parade of tanks, trucks, cannons and soldiers in olive drab—going past our house. When my mother and I went to the movies on Friday nights,
We saw a lot of war films and newsreels that frightened me.
Perhaps inspired by the talk of victory gardens, I bought a package of zinnia seeds and planted them beneath a scrawny old dead tree in the backyard. I put each seed,
one by one, in the dusty dirt. I visited my zinnia patch every day after school to see if anything had happened.
I didn’t know that I should water the seeds, but we lived in New Jersey, where it rains year-round. After a week or two, I finally saw small green leaves poking up out of the ground.
I was so excited! COURTESY REMINISCE MAGAZINE Little by little my plants grew.
It seemed to take forever, but I was learning to be patient as I tended my flower garden.
Eventually I noticed little round tops forming on the plants.
With the heat of summer beginning, the zinnias grew faster.
Then, at last, I had a small, beautiful orange flower.
More flowers grew, until finally they were all blooming.
The last week in July, my dad arrived unannounced at the back door. When I opened the door and saw him, I shrieked,
“Daddy!” and ran into his arms. He was home at last, just in time to see my garden.
Now, in my garden almost 50 years later, I make room for zinnias every spring.
I will never forget the wonder of that summer so long ago.