Saturday, July 22, 2017

rest in peace, dad

My old faded and worn out Sunset New Western Garden Book, from 1979

My father passed away this past week, on July 17, 2017 at the age of 86. People said that I looked a lot like him. My sister says that I inherited my sensitivity (and intensity and tendency to worry) from my mother, and that I inherited my father's artistic nature and his love of plants.

Well I think I far outstripped Dad in plant fanaticism. if I had to relay a story of Dad when I was a kid it go like this:

Imagine, it is 1979, I’m 12 years old and I just returned from a bus trip to downtown Oakland, (on my own!), and Dad is watching the football game.

Announcer: “The Saints and the Raiders have taken the field once again and we are moments away from the beginning of the second half, we’ll look at the statistics, New Orleans who piled up at one point a club record of 28 points in one quarter...”

I’m sitting on the couch ready to break open my brand new book. The New Western Garden book, which had just been released and I had saved enough pennies to buy one on sale.

Dad says, “Peter! Come sit next to me and watch the football game!” It’s not a request, it’s a command.

I’m thinking “oooookay....” so I get up, sit next to him....and open my book and begin reading. It goes something like this: Let’s play a game where I just read off the names of plants I know, and get familiar with the layout of the book.
Abelia grandiflora
Abies concolor
Abutilon hybridum, Abutilon megapotamicum,
Acacia baileyana, and Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’
Acacia farnesiana (can’t wait to sniff that one)
Acacia melanoxylon (oh, that one’s in the back yard)
Acanthus mollis
Acer macrophyllum...

Dad: “Peter! Are you watching?”
I look up:
 Announcer: “...Oakland! With a first and 10, Arthur Whittington gets the call for this out over the 35...”

Me: Acer macrophyllum (that’s a cool one!)
Acer palmatum
Achillea tomentosa
Acoelorrhaphe wrightii (why can’t we grow anything cool like that?)
Adianthum raddianum

Dad: “Peter! Did you see that play?!”
Announcer: “..and out comes Rick Partridge, presumably to punt, and Russell Ergsleger, their #1 draft pick kicker...”

Agapanthus africanus,
Akebia quinata...”
Dad looks down at me: “What the f....smiling mighty Jesus!”
Looks up to heaven “Why couldn’t you have given me a normal boy?”

Nope, as my father told me, I was never the son that he wanted. I think that was because in some ways, I was too much like him, the parts of himself that he didn't like. But I don't think those were necessarily bad qualities.
My Garden Books. No I don't have the newest one.


  1. Sad to hear of your father's death, though interesting on your relationship, including him wanting you to watch the game and you wanting to read Sunset Western Garden Book! I was that way to a point, too.

    The newest Sunset WGB...they forgot to map what they I contributed to them about ABQ and El Paso need to be in different parts of their zone 10. So don't bother!!

    1. Thank you. I didn't see anything in the newest SWGB to bother purchasing it.