Last week I wrote a little about the Powell women and shared a few family memories relating to gardening. This week I’d like to focus on one very special woman in particular. That woman is my mom, Sandra Powell. She ran the nursery with my dad for a long time, working hard and putting her personality and talents into the business. She still contributes much to the nursery and has left a wonderful example for her daughters to follow. Nearly everyday, someone asks me, “How are your parents doing? How is your mom?” She has a great many friends and fans in the community.
Mom married into the family business. Growing up in rural Washington, she learned much about farming from her dad. She has always been a hard worker and I’m sure she did her fair share of milking, collecting eggs, and leading the cows home. She knew how to kill a chicken and probably butcher a cow, too, although I don’t think I ever asked about that. She earned her way through college as a waitress. That’s how she met my dad. My dad, being the tall, dark and handsome type had no shortage of female attention. But something about my mom caught his attention. Maybe it was because she was a good dancer. Or outgoing, smart, and fun. Whatever that combination of attributes was, Dad fell in love, and the rest as they say, is history.
Mom graduated with a degree in home economics from Washington State University. She married Dad in August after graduation. She taught home ec in Washington before she and Dad moved back to Corvallis to help my grandmother, who had been diagnosed with cancer, to run Garland Nursery. My mom had me soon after moving and then my brother, Lee, two years later. Many of the first years here were spent raising kids and helping out a little more each year. By the time my sister, Erica, was born in 1970, my Mom was fully involved in the day-to-day operation of the nursery.
Mom had a lot of specialties when it came to the business. She did the bookkeeping herself and later oversaw a bookkeeper. She cashiered, carried out, helped customers and ordered bedding plants. She coordinated advertising and spoke to garden clubs and trade groups. She hired and fired, negotiated and said no to numerous sales people. She was the editor of our original newsletter, The View from the Barn. Mom was and still is a great event planner. That Garland Nursery has events throughout the year and that we’re actually able to pull them off reasonably well is all due to Mom. She is still the coordinator for our biggest event, Art and Wine in the Garden (coming up this year on July 27th and 28th). Mom was the person who started and still propels the two major social events that we put on as a family: the Corn Roast and the ladies Christmas Coffee.
Mom is a positive, outgoing, tell it like it is woman that I greatly admire. Dad is, in some ways her opposite. He is artistic, shy at times, thinks before he speaks, and sometimes is wrapped up in his own thougths. Funny thing is, I identified much more with my dad when I was younger. My sister was so much more like my mom than I was. But my mom let my dad be who he was. I’m sure she directed him the way she wanted him to go, but Dad was always the leader in the family. And it seemed to work so naturally and well, that I was quite surprised to find out when I got married the first time around how truly difficult it is to maintain that kind of relationship. It was only after the demise of my first marriage that I decided perhaps I needed follow a little bit more in my mom’s footsteps and emulate some of those attributes that I think make her such a strong woman. As it turns out, I am more like my mom than I thought, and I am truly grateful for that.
You may have noticed that I have made no mention of the numerous industry and community leadership roles she has filled and accolades she has received. Mom has been a hardworker and very giving of her limited spare time. Although those accolades are very nice, I kinda think my mom would actually appreciate more knowing that her children love and admire her. I’m not a mom, but I know that’s what I’d like more than anything else.
So Mom, this View From the Barn is dedicated to you! I want you to know that I love you so much. You are a bright, shining example of womanhood to me. I only hope to have half of your energy, organizational skills and dedication. And if I’ve ever said or done anything that has made you feel bad, please forgive me. I truly admire you. Thank you for being my mom. Thank you for being you.