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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


What Just Happened?

WE CAN CALL IT ANOTHER year in the books. Christmas is behind us with this week of further languishing and trying not to look at the calendar either because you might not be looking forward to getting back to the regular schedule or you have had enough family time and can’t wait for Monday the third. It seems like there is a lot happening during the week of the third. It seems like towards the end of this year many of my sentences ended with “getting back to that during the week of the third.”

Hopefully most of us came away from the Christmas holidays unscathed by something we did or said either at home with family or at the office party saying something that can’t be unsaid. I have been pondering this past year about my personal life and my life at work. I will remember 2021 as one of my more interesting years I can remember. So much has happened for Mimi and me on a personal level that we take walks and talk as often as we can just so we can keep up with everything that seems to be constantly churning all around us.

First of all we have hit a groove in our relationship we could have never dreamed of. I don’t know if it’s time that chills things out as we age together and celebrate 28 years of marriage or if some other magical thing happens. I do know that whatever it is I hope and pray it can be this way forever. I think our happiness and satisfaction comes from seeing things we’ve really worked hard on beginning to take shape.

Our main source of excitement comes from watching our two kids, Mia and Max, growing up. They have both finished their formal education and moved on into the real education, real life. They have both moved off to other states to begin their careers. They both navigated through the pandemic safely and both managed to make upward movement in their chosen career paths during a time that a lot of people weren’t so lucky.

I told them a long time ago that most people don’t know exactly what they are going to do career wise until it’s almost too late. I told them that I was one of the lucky ones who knew before high school was out which general direction I was headed. It had some curves and bumps on my path but it generally went the way I had hoped, just a lot better. It turns out Mia declared what her profession would be around the 10th grade and she never veered. She studied it in college, got her master’s degree in it and found a great job in her field in a great place, Greenville, S.C. I love when they go off to somewhere that is also fun to visit.

Mia has grown in her career, personally, spiritually, and every way possible. She is maneuvering through a great relationship with a guy from that area who is at the same stage of life she is. I love listening to them as they make plans for their future. I can tell she listened to us about life stuff and I can tell that once she came out from under our wings she turned her brain on and is going to be good at doing what it takes to get by.

Max knew the would be involved with agriculture when he was in the 10th grade. I think his first vision was to work with Mimi and me at our business because that’s what he was mostly doing at that time. After he finished his formal education he gravitated more towards field crops and that lifestyle. The retail lifestyle is not very appealing to someone his age and he got enough taste of it to know that might not be his idea of fulfillment for a lifetime. I get it. I wouldn’t try to sway anyone towards retail who might not be aware of what they are getting into. Max is living on his own with a new work family he works and lives with on a ranch in Oklahoma. He absolutely loves it and is learning an incredible amount about his passion and how to make it on his own. I guess he will be out there for a while. He’s there to learn and they know that so they are spending a great amount of time helping him learn.

My mind is blown whenever I talk to either of them on the phone. They are both so passionate about their careers. When they talk about it we can just feel their excitement about their progress. As most of you know that is enough to make a parent feel pretty good. Mimi and I did the best we could to get them ready for this stage of their lives and it looks like it’s working.

2021 LOOKED GOOD on all of my immediate family. My mother seems to have found a happy groove since my dad passed away. I know it has to be very difficult to have had the wonderful lives together they had for 60 something years and then to be suddenly alone. After a very long journey through great memories and sadness my mother and Mimi’s mother have navigated similar paths. My hat is off to both of them for working so hard on starting their lives over and keeping the momentum going. I know they will always miss their former spouses but they have allowed room in their lives for continued happiness and I think that takes great strength that I can only hope I have one day.

Mom is heading down to New Orleans every chance she gets because that was her and my father’s favorite place and my brother and his family live down there. So Mom goes to visit them. They have two kids who are roughly the same ages as ours so they are at that point in their lives where they are making the big decisions and seem to be doing great.

Mimi’s mom has moved from the Ozarks of Arkansas to Ridgeland. She is looking for just the right house and is staying in our mother-in-law-suite until we find her a place she can love. There will have to be plenty of room for a gardener in her back yard. She and my mom could be dangerous gardening together. They are both extremely active and gardening always has been and always will be like breathing to them. Their gardening styles are very similar, lots of big color, lots of perennials and great pots stuffed with colorful plants.

Maybe I should let them get their garden ya-ya’s out in my back yard… for free.

Mimi’s brother is a farmer in the Delta. He and his wife are having a great year with their farming and married life. Their two kids are roughly our kids’ age and are out of the house successfully. Both are following their dreams and have a lot of excitement going on.

I have older nieces and nephews who are all reporting on having the time of their lives with careers and marriages and babies. It was fun at Christmas catching up with all that.

Mine and Mimi’s work lives is another source of happiness. The folks we work with every day are one of our highlights. The people who keep our business what it is seem to share in our happiness. I guess its a recycle thing, like I think we all feed off each other. We are happy to see each other in the morning. We stay around for a while after work to relax and have a few laughs about the day. We don’t all always have great days. We know each other so well we know when someone needs a time-alone day or when one of us is having a needing-someone day. If you’ve spent time at our business you’ve experienced the sense of family that is so obvious with our group.

I really believe that navigating through the pandemic together as a business and as a family brought us closer together as some events can. We had to figure out ways to stay open and to make customers feel safe. That took a lot of communication and jumping on the same page as each other to make it work. Some may have sacrificed their true feelings and doubts and fears just so our business that we all rely on could get to the other side of this mess. It was really interesting to watch this family kick in to do what it takes.

Whatever the magic was it worked, it worked way better than I could have dreamed. No one has ever written a book about how to get your business and 35 people through a pandemic with as few glitches as possible. I feel like we could now. As a business owner it feels really good to see how much the people who keep it going really care. Our customers felt the care that went into making this work for everyone and they liked telling us and thanking us. We definitely came out stronger in the end in about 17 different ways. For that we will forever be grateful.

ANOTHER THING I enjoyed about 2021 was writing this article every week. I enjoy going down what’s left of my memory lane and digging up photos. As I write these things I have remembered things I haven’t thought about in years. It has reminded me of what a great life I’ve had bumbling through life. I had a fun childhood living in the country with a lot of freedom. I had a fun college tour, met my wife to be, traveled the world and wound up in a great marriage with some cool kids. I love my career path and the people who have joined me on it. I write about these things as if someone cares to hear about it. Sometimes the deadline sneaks up on me or I just can’t get in the mood, I call those weeks articles the git-er-done kind when I’m not that proud of it but I can tell myself that it is done. I ask her who in the world would want to read this stuff about my and our life? She says people want to read it because it’s authentic, which is rare these days, and because it is positive which is also rare these days. She and the others around Garden Works say people mention the article to them all day every day.

I thank you for continuing to read about this crazy saga of mine. Writing about it has been a real pleasure and, like I said, it has helped me to realize how wonderful my life has been. I also hope I am giving you some gardening tips that make your days in the garden a little easier and a lot more fun. That’s my real goal but as you know I get sidetracked.

I’m going to appreciate 2021 and dare to wish for a 2022 that gets anywhere close to the happiness and satisfaction that the previous year has brought. I’m hoping the same for all of us. It’ll take some concentration and some forward momentum.

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