As the Ivy Grows

They were in their mid-twenties when they moved into a one hundred year old row home. The cinder block back wall of their backyard, backing up to a school parking lot on its other side, wasn't nearly as old as the house itself – a thirty foot tall blank slate. They thought of adding a layer of stucco to it, considered painting it with a scene or a solid color, but eventually they just planted ivy at its base.

In their late twenties, she gave birth. They'd prayed every night for nine months for a healthy baby, and a healthy baby they had. They named him after her late grandfather. When they watched him take his first steps in their backyard, the ivy had crept just a few feet up the back wall.

They had a second child a few years later, a healthy baby girl. Their house was a small one in which to raise two kids, so the backyard served as an extra room. The kids played outside in a sandbox as toddlers, played music on a boombox as teens. They did their share of fighting but had a lot of fun too. When the son went away to college, ivy covered more than half the back wall.

The kids grew up. The son married after his younger sister, who lived a couple of hours away by car, and he and his new wife arranged with his parents to move into the old house. The parents were ready for a move anyway, and they found a place equidistant from their son and daughter. The family gathered a few times a year at the house, always spending some time outside silhouetted by an ivy wall.

5 comments:

  1. I liked the through-line on this one -- it's funny how plants can always seem the same until you flip through several years' worth of photographs and see the changes.

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  2. I like how the ivy wall is witnessing the family's movement through time and yet like the family is part of the house, part of the whole. Beautiful story!

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  3. This sounds so much like my life Richard. We too planted ivy in a space we had no idea what to do with and over the years, as it grew and grew and grew, it became known as the side garden where the boys played (and lost so many toys!). :) Beautiful story, I love the rhythm of it.

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  4. Touching story Richard. In a way the ivy becomes part of the family.

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  5. Great idea, making a "background detail" the focus of the story.

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