Traditions make family stronger

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 4, 2014

Although I missed the opportunity to travel to Bellingrath Gardens last week, a visit to my sister-in-law Monica’s home made up for it. Her azaleas are in full bloom beautifully signaling the arrival of spring.

I’m ready to add a few flowers to my own landscape, but other than hanging baskets, I’ll wait until after Easter. Why? First of all, it’s just easier. Every Easter Sunday there is an egg hunt at my home. The children who once ran across the lawn in search of additional candy to add to their baskets have produced little ones eager to do the same. It’s more fun for everyone if I’m not worried about new flowers getting trampled. 

The second and most important reason is because it’s what my Maw Maw Jello taught me. She was the person who instilled in me a love of all things outdoors. In one of my earliest memories of her, she is kneeling next to me, showing me the difference between a weed and a flower. She taught me to throw used coffee grounds and egg shells on azaleas, to plant when the sun first begins its descent and to always wait until after Easter before adding new flowers to the garden. So I do. It’s tradition.

It’s also tradition that my daughter Elise and I plant at least one Gerber daisy, the favorite flower of my grandfather, who died four years before I was born. This week, in honor of the only person I still miss despite never meeting, I’ll plant a Gerber daisy.

Tradition. My family is full of them, and I only hope to add to our collection. I believe traditions solidify the family and provide a firm foundation for future memories. Traditions are also avenues for preserving a family’s history.

I regret that I didn’t preserve my grandmother’s memories of her family by writing them down, and I hope that my children do not make the same mistake. I hope that they are paying close attention to the stories that they are privileged to hear. They have had access to my late father-in-law’s eye-witness account of many of the battles of World War II and the childhood experiences of both sets of their grandparents. My goal is to begin a new tradition of capturing these many, many stories in print.

J. S. Bryan said, “Many men can make a fortune, but few can build a family.”

If you visit St. Peter’s Cemetery this spring, you’ll find Gerber daisies at the grave of Louis and Mae Keller. They didn’t build a fortune, but a family rich with memories and traditions invaluable to this writer.


Ronny may be reached at