What do you buy the man who has everything?

In 1980, for his 55th birthday, my Dad asked for (and received) a truckload of composted cowsh*t. You think my Mom wasn’t a loving wife?

He’s holding a candle. Caption on the back: “Happy Birthday 1980”


Cheaper by the truckload.

Dad had a passion for organic gardening. Also for beekeeping, primitive archery, and fruit trees. He was also a homemade wine-making tee-totaler. He was a hippie before the hippies knew granola was supposed to crunch.
The story gets better. Later that same day, with the cowsh*t still in the driveway, Mom and Dad drove to the airport to pick up my girlfriend and I for her first visit to Tulsa from New Orleans. And to meet my parents for the first time.
Ninety-nine women out of a hundred would have caught two things in rapid succession: 1) a whiff of the cowsh*t, and 2) the next cab to the airport. Not Paula Demma Maley. For some reason, she saw in him a glimpse of the kind of man that I might potentially become, if I were ever to grow up. The jury’s still out on that one.
Dad turned 91 in March. He still has an itch to garden when his back and knees cooperate. He has lived in Louisiana the past 20 years, where his gardening continued and where he has been able to grow fine citrus trees for the first time in his life. He expanded his manure repertoire to include exotics like quailsh*t (quite fruitful), and he’s learned that crawfish shells make great compost.
Nana & Hydrangeas

Love you, Mom.

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