GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

Nothing Dies



Throughout the life of this blog there has been an unsung hero; ever present, always helping. My mom has shared our life, our home, our garden chores, our cooking, our bug problems, our garden box building and our son’s growth every single day for the past four years.  She even got a short debut on the blog back in 2012. 

Six months ago she found out she had stage four lung cancer, and on Sunday May 11th, 2014, she passed over to the Other Side.

It was a short six months of brutal battle that has left us all with scars. She was 56.

I have always felt that my plants are a reflection of how I’m doing inside. If they are strong and growing, I know I’m doing ok. If they are dying, I’m usually a mess.  And right now, it’s a hot mess out there…yet there’s all this life peeking out. I’m the same.


An overgrown hot mess…but there’s goodies underneath.

My mom always was game for all my mad experiments. I wanted to make vegan “bacon” out of long squash and call it BLTs…she was waiting by the oven for them to come and sing my praises, even if it was awful.  (That time it was good…other times, not so much, like the pineapple jam disaster) 🙂

She was always the first to head out to the garden in the morning and check to see if any tomatoes were red. Between her and my son, not many ever made it back to the kitchen. Tomato snacking was a favorite pastime.

She fed our chickens, helped clip their wings and imparted her wisdom on all of our projects. She had knowledge she didn’t even know she had. As soon as I would start doing something she was always chiming in with just tidbits of information until I would say, “Have you done this before?” And sure enough, she had. So why re-invent the wheel? Just ask Mema (my son’s name for her.)

The garden on the side of the house was one of the last things she was around to help with. We set up the shade tent for her outside while we dug in the soil, planted seedlings and marigolds, her favorite.  That spot is overgrown now, filled with grass…yet there’s still a bunch of food waiting to be plucked.

Plucking red strawberries

Plucking red strawberries

So much of our garden has been neglected over the past six months of newborn care and cancer battle. I don’t feel bad about it, the people were the priorities. Sorry plants. While mom went for radiation treatments for tumors in her brain and on her spine, I nursed a baby and read Naturopathic Oncology, The Gerson Therapy, Healing with Whole Foods and about six other books on healing your body with foods. It wasn’t for nothing. The juicing and supplements she did while at home made her feel better, gave her strength, and gave me, the caregiver, something to feel like I was doing something.

Because I think a gardeners hands need to be busy. I needed to feel I was doing something to help her, and she let me do that.

My son and I spent some time in the gardens this morning, talking about the life cycle. When a plant dies, where does it go? It’s seeds are likely picked up by birds and transported somewhere else, where a new one is started. The ones we harvest, nourish us. The roots and leaves decompose, become soil, and nourish new plants. The plant is never “gone.”


The belief that nothing is permanent is healing and peaceful to me. Nothing is born, nothing dies. The whole of the cosmos has come together to make that tomato manifest. If the plant dies or the fruit falls off, it’s not gone. It changes form. You might see it again in a new spot with better conditions.

I was with my mom every single day for the last 2 months of her life and I was with her when her spirit left her body. But she is far from gone. I feel her every single day. Her voice interrupts my internal dialogue. She makes lights flicker at coffee shops. She talks to me in my dreams. She has manifested in new and interesting ways…butterflies hatched from their chrysalis on the day she passed, purple hibiscus bloomed finally, and our overgrown garden is filled with life. I may ask her if she could help us out with that slug problem…as little Divine intervention would be great.



I see her in my children, the best things I’m growing. I will always see her in marigolds.  I will always see her in tomatoes, because she loved them and because she taught me how to can them with my grandpa.  I will also always smile when I see rosemary, because she hated it.

I will keep her desert rose flowers blooming as best I can.

She is here.




Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

2 thoughts on “Nothing Dies

  1. Beautiful post, Carmen. I am so, so sorry about your mom, more than I can even express. I’m so glad you were able to have her living there in Hawaii with y’all the last few years, though, and that Ethan was able to know her so well. I loved the photos you posted of the light shining in the room after her ceremony. She was an amazing person and she is definitely not gone. Sending you love, kisses and prayers across the Pacific. xoxo


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