Water the Plants

About once a week, I make a plan to see my husband’s grandmother. I call her Gran Nola. She’s 80 years old and lives in a separate flat next to the family house. She’s fiercely independent, but having a harder time getting normal chores done: taking out the trash, watering her garden, putting out birdseed for her beloved wild birds.

I don’t really have a problem helping her, and the rest of the family feel the same way. But it’s the fact that she doesn’t ask for much help that bothers me. Whenever I ask if she needs anything, I feel like I’m forcing her to tell me government secrets. She usually responds with “Oh no, I’m fine, thank you.” Sometimes, she changes it up and says she’s “quite fine, thank you.”

So when she does ask me something, I try to do it right then and there. I want to show I can help her. I want her to see that she is not burdening me at all, but helping me feel useful around the house. This is something I struggle with because I don’t have a “real” job. I want to feel like I’m contributing.

This week, she asked me to water the plants in her garden, adding “If it’s not too much trouble for you” to give me a way to get out of the task. Of course, it wasn’t an issue. Gran Nola asked if I could water the garden in the afternoon because it’s too hot before noon. I usually don’t have afternoon plans anyways, so perfect! It’s fairly easy to water plants. But that’s only if one remembers to do it.

By the end of the day, I had already forgotten my task. The one thing she asked me to do, I forgot. And it was only the next morning that I realized, I forgot to water the plants.

How did something so simple slip my mind?

But it made me think: how many simple things do I often forget about, do I neglect?

How many times have I forgotten to “water the plants” for other areas of my life? Like stretching after exercising, or writing in my daily journal for Zora, or reciting my rosary prayers? How many times have I said I’ll get to it later or It’s too early to do that or Maybe tomorrow when I could have easily taken a few minutes to tend to those seedlings?

Yesterday, I forgot to water the plants. But today, I remembered. I don’t have to say, Oh, I’m a failure; the garden is ruined now. Instead, I will acknowledge my mistake and do exactly what was asked of me: water the plants.

It’s the small efforts combined that account for all the great things.

Forgetting isn’t the problem. If you forget something one time (like going to the gym or having an extra helping of cake when you’re dieting or keeping your cool while in peak traffic), it’s not going to break your progress. But what will ruin your progress, whatever that progress may be, is continuing to neglect something fundamental on a daily basis. If you forget to water the plants once, it’s okay. Your garden will survive. But when you forget to water every day, over and over, your garden will eventually wither away. Life does get hectic at times, but don’t forget to water the plants.

Take the time to examine and evaluate yourself today. Are you remembering to water the plants in all areas of your life: physical, emotional, spiritual? Is there a particular garden that needs a bit of TLC? What can you do to tend to and nourish those plants you neglected?



  1. Theresa Durrheim

    I loved that story. Makes one think how we neglect the little things in life and eventually all those little things meant such a lot….then there is no turning back. Thank you for these very wise words.

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