Installment Two: In Which I Cry
For last week I had planned a post about Father’s Day, about my Dad and the spiderwort he gave me. But instead I was in another state trying my best to help my stepmother, who just lost her last child.
On June 13, the Thursday before Father’s Day, my youngest brother, Robert Lee Underwood, Jr., transitioned.
He was a brother, a son, and a father of three sons. Cardiac arrest took him unexpectedly.
As Father’s Days go, this one sucked.
The week Robert passed I went out every morning and watered those volunteer spiderwort that I got my neighbor to dig up out of the lawn. It had been so hot and dry that the red Georgia clay was too hard, and I just couldn’t dig through it. So, I went out every morning to water the clumps of flowers before it got too hot, which happens quickly in Georgia, so that they wouldn’t die before I could get them in the ground.
I didn’t mind. It’s cool in the mornings and the water smells good and sounds like rain when it hits the ground. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed watering flowers, how much I liked to be out so early in the morning. Zen thing.
But Girl, frustrating as kudzu is my eldest brother! God bless him, he dug a hole for me to transplant the spider wort into. I put the spade exactly where I wanted the hole dug. And said to him, “Brother, would you dig me a hole for the spiderwort exactly where I have put the shovel?“ So of course, he digs a hole beside where I wanted the spiderwort. Exactly where I was hoping to put a birdbath. But he tried. God bless him, he tried.
Spiderwort. That’s something your great grandma used to plant. It’s a really old garden flower that blooms in the morning before the sun gets hot, all the way from spring through most of the summer. The flowers are tiny blue cheerful blooms that persevere through drought and heat, summer after summer. Dad discovered some in his yard when he bought the house that he lived in. And I brought some home. At the time I didn’t know that it would be one of the few things I would have to remember him by.
My brother asked me why I want the spiderwort. Not sure I really want spiderwort. I think maybe I just want Dad.
Dad married my stepmother when I was seventeen. Robert was three. From the first moment I loved him. What was I supposed to do? Not love a three-year-old? He has passed over now to join my father. I will miss him. Just as I miss Dad.
I still have one volunteer spiderwort to transplant. I guess I had better get about it. But the misty spray from the hole in the water hose blew in my direction. It felt so good, for a while I just stood there.