The grand old weeping willow tree stood silent sentinel over a garden that seemed immense in the mind of a child. In reality, it was a small urban plot, but being my grandmother’s flower garden, it loomed larger than life. No matter what the time of year, there always seemed to be a particular bush, flower or tree in focus, coaxed to its peak perfection by her touch.

Among my earliest recollections are the times I spent in that garden. It was where I wanted to be more than any other place in the world, there with her, and I could hardly wait for Sunday afternoons. After the family dinner, she and I would go walking among the flowers and cut a huge bouquet for me to take home. It was a special time for us, a time that never included anyone else. As we walked, she would recite the name of each plant. I knew them all by heart, but I still wanted her to tell me.

My lessons, however, did not stop with just the elements of making plants grow. From her I learned that the garden was a place where dreams could be dreamed, where a little girl could lose herself in the magical world of make-believe, and answers to many of life’s problems could be found.

Of course, at my young age I had no problems and did not learn until sometime later of the lean years that had filled my grandmother’s life with fear and anxiety, their memory never completely erased …

The electric company had sent past due notices, several of them, in fact. Where would the money come from? Other bills waited to gobble up the few dollars in her purse, dollars earmarked for food. And then, the Final Notice came.

Worry weighed heavily upon her as she made her way outdoors, seeking comfort in her beloved garden. Sitting there amid the beauty she had so lovingly nurtured, she silently prayed for strength, perhaps for a solution to her problem. After a time, her eyes fell upon the small shiny object lying on the ground at her feet – but what possible good would that do her?

“It’s only a dime,” she told my uncle, who was just a boy at the time. “Maybe you can find some way to put it to use for us.

Although the gaming spots of our small town were foreign to my grandmother, I’m sure a tiny smile played across her face when the answer to her problem came in the form of a winning wager that my uncle had placed with that dime! The winnings were minuscule by today’s standards, but sufficient to pay the long-overdue electric bill, with some left over.

With the end of the depression years, the quality of life became progressively better for my grandmother and her family. By the time I came along, there was comfort within the household, allowing me to be, for the most part, spared the hardships that had shadowed much of my grandparents’ and parents’ lives.

My grandmother has been gone for many years, but she still walks with me in the garden – in my garden, now – and will always be a part of the deep sense of pride I feel when I tend my roses. As for her legacy to me, I have her green thumb, her love of gardening, and, hopefully, a measure of the faith that always led her to the answer she sought. Even when that answer came disguised as something seemingly insignificant, something as small as a dime on a garden path.