During the summer of 1983 there was a very special angel in my vegetable garden. She watched lady bugs and snuggled next to cabbage leaves. While I plucked diligently to remove weeds she joyously scooted along rows of greens.
Having my daughter with me in the garden helped me to cope with her disability. Somehow getting my hands dirty and nurturing plants calmed my worries. Being out in the garden brought peace to my heart. So I tilled the earth, while my curious toddler explored the patch of zucchini. Janae was unable to stand and walk on her own. Her lack of muscle tone, due to Down syndrome, caused her legs to look delectably plump, yet I knew it would take her longer to get around. This delay did not stop her.
She configured her own way to move so that she could explore. I’d never seen a stink bug, but folks told me that she reminded them of that bug when she crawled. She would put her feet on the ground, straighten her legs to stand, and then bend over to support her weight with arms in a crawl position. I think she crawled this way because she could pull herself to a stand, yet her hips couldn’t support her full weight.
Butt in the air, she would move through the zucchini while following the cat. She was so cute, with her blonde pigtails bouncing, and a sweet smile on her face.
Here is a current picture of Janae. She is a confident, independent young woman. During visits home she often offers to help me in the garden. Gently yet thoroughly she tends to the perennials. Gardening seems to an innate part of her character. She is still my angel in the garden.
Together we enjoy bird song, getting our hands dirty, and the special love we have for each other.