By Fatimah Daffale
When I was growing up in Iraq, my family had a beautiful garden filled with flowers that we planted there and a big tall tree! I used to help my grandma take care of this garden.
My grandma passed away when I was younger, but the lessons she taught me will always be remembered by
me. My grandma loved taking care of our garden, and I loved being with her to learn how to take care of the garden’s beautiful, large roses. Helping my grandma with the garden taught me responsibility, creativity and being my true self! My grandma was the
light of our house; her wisdom always shown through the stories she told us. I have always wanted to be caring and kind like she was!
My grandma and I had a specific schedule and routines we used in order to make sure all the garden was taken care of. My grandma always told me that if we stopped taking care of the flowers in our garden, that it would all die and its beauty would be gone with it. I was scared that these beautiful roses and trees would die, so I made it a responsibility to care for them by making the time for them.
That was a lesson that I started applying into my life. For example, in our friendships, if we do not
care enough to always check on our friends and be there for them when they need us, that friendship will not exist. It will die because it needs the water and sunlight of love to help grow and stay strong!
We also had a date palm in our garden, which is commonly seen in the Middle East. That palm was my favorite part of our garden. I used to always take my little bag and collect the dates; they were delicious! Dates in the Arab culture symbolize prosperity, and dates are commonly eaten during the month of Ramadan. My grandma always told me about the history of dates, which was fascinating to me as a young child. Today I still love eating dates! They remind me of how beautiful and generous my grandma was!
“Let her do what she wants, let her be creative!” These were my grandma’s words whenever someone stopped me from doing something that I wanted with the garden. My grandma wanted me to be creative and so she wanted me to experiment! Red, pink, pink, and then red: that was my favorite pattern to plant the roses! My grandma was the reason why I fell in love with design, journalism, and gardening. These were ways for me to be creative and to express myself. As I grow older, I have ideas, thoughts and feelings, and they can be expressed through writing and design. There are no rules for how to design something or what to write about. These are ways to share the way we feel and express the ideas we have.
During Valentines Day this year, write a letter to someone you love or start a hobby that you all could do together. Roses and trees will die if not taken care of; let the people you love know that you are always there for them.
As we figure out who we are – see our strengths, weaknesses and passions – we have to learn and apply both responsibility and creativity. I learned so much from my grandma and, most importantly, I learned how to laugh and love. It is so crucial to find fun hobbies to do with the people you love. Laughter is a special medicine that everyone needs! Love you, Grandma!
Check out the scores of Vintage Valentine’s Day cards at the Worcester Historical Museum! A sampling: