I wouldn’t tell what follows if my late stepfather had been the least bit shy or embarrassed about it, but I can still recall the day he laid back in his recliner, told me this true story as tears streamed from his Paul Newman baby blues and laughter deepened his always prominent dimples. He had hardly said two words before my mother started laughing and tearing up. She knew what was coming.
First, you need to know that before my mother and stepfather downsized to a condo, both were gardeners. On temperate days, the exceptions being my stepfather’s golf on dry Tuesdays, their standing dates on Fridays, and Sundays when they attended the Southern Baptist Church where they met and were fixed up on a date by a deacon, they worked in their yard.
In addition to taking care of the tedious chores of cutting grass, weeding, edging and raking, they tended huge flowers beds of heirloom azaleas, roses bushes, hydrangeas, and assorted annuals and perennials, both low-growing and climbing. When they were done and had showered off the muck and dirt, the two would sit out in the backyard and sip iced tea, enjoying their own private paradise, one they sorely missed after their move.
They took care to make sure their front yard was beautiful, too, with beds of neatly trimmed boxwoods along the front walk and tall pines ringed by azaleas. On anything else rising from the ground – a trellis, a light pole, a mailbox, they grew clematis. Neither my mother nor stepfather were interested in the mini-versions. They loved the huge showy blossoms of white or purple that could be seen by anyone passing down the street. The bigger the clematis bloom, the more awed they were by nature and God’s hand in it.
One day on the golf course at Ocean View as my stepfather hit a round with old friends from his youth and others from his church, the talk turned to yard work. I wasn’t there, but I imagine there was grumbling by some who’d prefer to spend less time on the grass at home and more on that at the course, but eventually the conversation turned to the growing season and how flora of all kinds were flourishing – squash plants spreading like octopi, dahlias stalks breaking ground, hydrangeas clumps taking on tinges of blues and pinks.
And it was during this talk that my dear stepfather, picturing the dazzling clematis abloom on the mailbox, said, “You’re not kidding. You should see the beautiful clitoris I have at home!”
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