Grandma’s Garden


Cast thy bread upon the water: for thou shalt find it after many days (Eccl. 11:1).

When Mom read Grandma’s letter, my twin brother, Bryce, and I looked at each other and cringed. “How can Grandma take care of a garden?” I asked, reaching for my milk.

“Grandma has always had a garden, Peg,” Mom answered, smiling and pushing the plate of cookies toward us.

“But before, Grandpa was there to do the hard work,” Bryce pointed out. “Since he died, Grandma’s been alone. She shouldn’t be out working in the garden.”

“But Grandma loves having a garden,” Mom said. “I don’t think anybody could talk her out of it.”

“Then we ought to help her,” I said. “Bryce and I could help. We help Dad in the garden all the time. We could do the hard stuff that Grandma shouldn’t do.”

“She lives a long way from us—almost seven hundred miles. We can’t drive there every time she needs help.”

“So what are we going to do?” Bryce asked. “We can’t just let her do it alone.”

Mom thought for a long time. “You can remember her in your prayers. Maybe Heavenly Father will send someone over to help her when she needs it most. That’s probably all we can do right now. We’ll visit her this summer. You can help then.”

“But that will be after most of the hard work.”

Bryce and I couldn’t stop worrying about Grandma. The summer before, we had spent three weeks with her and Grandpa and had worked with him in the garden. We knew how hard it was to hoe weeds, keep the ditches clean, and water every week. The sun had burned down, making the sweat pour down our faces. We didn’t think it was fair for Grandma to have to do all that hard work herself. When we said our prayers, we always remembered her and her garden, but we still felt there was something else we ought to do. We just weren’t sure what it was.

The next Saturday Mom sent us to the store for some milk. On our way home, we passed Sister Rogers working in her yard. She was on her hands and knees, digging in her flower bed. She greeted us with her usual big smile. “Out running errands?”

We nodded. “Isn’t it too hot for you to be out working, Sister Rogers?” Bryce asked.

“It is warm, but someone has to do the work. Since Brother Rogers had his operation, he hasn’t been able to do much. In a month or so, he should be well enough to help some. But right now there’s work to do, and I’m the only one who can do it.”

Bryce and I started home. “I don’t think she’s the only one who can do that work,” Bryce muttered. “Maybe we should help her out.”

A few minutes later we were back at the Rogers’s place. “We came to help,” I announced. “What can we do?”

Sister Rogers was surprised. “I haven’t ever had young people stop by to help out. What would you like to do?”

“Anything you need. You tell us what to do, and we’ll get it done.”

Usually working in a garden or a yard is hard, boring work, but that Saturday Bryce and I had the best time. The sun was hot, and the sweat ran down our faces and into our eyes, and our backs ached after we’d pulled the weeds from the flower beds. I wore a blister on my hand, and Bryce ended up with two when we hoed the vegetable garden. But there was something fun about working with Sister Rogers.

It was late afternoon when we finally quit. She tried to pay us each five dollars. “No way!” I told her. “We didn’t do this for money. Taking money would ruin everything. We just wanted to help you out.”

Before she let us go, though, she fixed a huge pitcher of ice-cold lemonade and put a pile of soft, chewy brownies on a plate for us. We rested and feasted on the goodies.

“This reminds me of working with our grandma,” I told her. “She always gave us a treat after we worked in her garden.”

Sister Rogers laughed—a happy, fun laugh. “Did your Grandma ever feed you brownies?”

“No, but she makes the best molasses cookies I’ve ever tasted,” Bryce said. “After we worked, she gave us all the molasses cookies we could eat.”

“Well, Bryce, if you and your sister come back another time, I’ll have a plate of molasses cookies. I don’t know if they’ll be as good as your grandma’s, but I have some grandkids who think they’re good enough to put into a person’s mouth.”

For the next three weeks Bryce and I stopped by the Rogers’s place often. Sometimes the only thing Sister Rogers had for us to do was carry the trash out to the curb, but we still checked on her. We kept her flower bed and garden weeded, mowed the lawn, and helped trim the shrubs along the front of the house. And we found out that she made molasses cookies almost as good as Grandma’s.

“I don’t know what we would have done without your help this summer,” Brother Rogers said one afternoon as we were getting ready to leave. He had hobbled out into the front yard and sat in a lawn chair. “After my operation, I told Sister Rogers that we ought to just forget the garden and yard this year.” He shook his head and smiled. “She wouldn’t hear of it.”

“Usually we’re not crazy about working in the yard and stuff,” Bryce admitted, shrugging, “but this reminds us of working for our grandma.”

That evening as we were finishing dinner, Mom announced, “A letter came from Grandma today.”

“What did she say?” I asked, excited.

“How’s her garden?” Bryce wanted to know.

Mom smiled. “I think your prayers have been answered.”

“How?” I questioned.

“An LDS family down the street from her knew that she needed help, so they decided to make that a family project. At least once a week they go there and lend her a hand.”

Bryce looked across the table at me and grinned. “Maybe we prayed that family over to Grandma’s garden.”

“You could be right,” Mom said, nodding. “And I think that maybe someone someplace else has been praying for their Grandpa and Grandma Rogers. They probably prayed the two of you over to the Rogers’s garden—and you didn’t even know it.”

“Is that how Heavenly Father works?” I asked.

Mom smiled. “When he has work to do, he may use people like the two of you to do it. Even though you wanted to go help Grandma, you couldn’t go there, so Heavenly Father sent someone closer by. Maybe the Rogers’s grandkids would have loved to help them but couldn’t, so Heavenly Father sent the two of you. Doesn’t it make you feel good to know that you could be his answer to a prayer?”

Bryce and I thought about that. “Well, Peg,” Bryce said with a grin, “we’d better get to bed early tonight so that maybe we can help someone else tomorrow.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Julie F. Young