My gardens were featured in the June, 2003 Southern Living magazine. It was the second time we'd been featured in that magazine. Why have I been willing, even eager, to get such publicity over the years, you may wonder?
It all leads back to the first day of May, 1979, the day I moved to the farm that became Long Creek Herb Farm. That time, my two daughters, ages 4 and 5, were with me for their regular weekend visit. The three of us planted peas, late in the season for our area, but we planted with a lot of hope for my first garden in this location. My daughters were very close to me, and I to them. They were my life. That was one of the last times I saw my daughters.
They disappeared from my life, and from the Ozarks. My ex-wife took them out of state and kept them hidden from me by remarrying and changing her name and moving several times. Those events led to difficult years for me, years that I wasn’t sure I could survive without my children. The garden, though, was comforting and healing and I threw myself into my work.
Over the years I tried various unsuccessful methods for finding my children. Without money, the legal system was useless. Legal Aid wouldn't get involved in custody issues back in those days. I struggled, trying to find some way to locate my children and to have contact with them.
I tried everything I could think of and eventually I settled on the idea that publicity and writing might be the answer. I started writing books, magazine articles, newspaper columns. I sought publicity and found it, through a wide range of feature articles in national magazines and on syndicated television shows. Friends accused me of being a publicity hound. I was. I hoped that one day, one or both of my children might see an article about me in my garden, or see me on television and remember that day when they helped me plant peas, and want to contact me.
In June, twenty five years after losing my daughters, my dreams came true. My oldest daughter, now 29 and living in Chicago, saw the Southern Living article. In it she saw one of my books, Making Herbal Dream Pillows, featured, went to her local bookstore and bought the book. Upon opening it, she read the dedication, which said, "..and to Lori and Traci, who are always in my dreams." The book was written many years ago, so she saw that I had, indeed, wanted them in my life all of these years.
Lori contacted me and we began eagerly communicating by phone and email. In August I drove to Chicago to see her, a long awaited reunion, and to meet my grandson, now three years old. We spent many hours over several days catching up on each other’s lives. My younger daughter, also contacted me during that time by email.
There is no making up for the lost years, but out of those times some very good things have come about. That first garden we planted together did grow, and continues to do so today. The loss of my daughters prompted me to write and polish my gardens, always planting new hope. My grandmother's advice of, "Do what you love most and the rest will take care of itself," proved to be true. I love gardening and writing, both of which led me to establish my business, which in turn, led me back to my children.
My dream of finding my daughters some day, really has come true and I just wanted to share it with you, my readers. Thank you!