There was once an adorable first-grader named Samuel. His class was learning about plants. They learned about all of the parts of a plant and how they grow. They each got a marigold seed to plant in a little paper cup. Samuel planted his seed in the black soil with care. He watered it and watched it begin to sprout.
The Friday before Mother's Day (2008) he brought it home in a pretty bag he had decorated and gave it to his Mother. He was so excited to show it to her that he just couldn't wait until Sunday. He tore the bag in his excitement and presented her with the tiny seedling. They placed it in the kitchen window and together they watered it and watched it grow.
Ever so slowly it grew taller. By mid-June it was about two-and-a-half inches tall. It was time to plant the flower garden behind the garage, and Mom and Samuel decided that this year it would be a marigold patch. They went to a local farm and purchased 17 small marigold plants, and plotted out 18 spots. Each spot was carefully prepared, and each plant was lovingly planted in the waiting earth. Samuel's little marigold looked quite pathetic. The other plants were bushy, strong, 8-inch tall monsters. Samuel's marigold was so tiny and skinny that when it was lightly watered it fell to the ground. Mother contemplated just tossing it into the woods to die - it looked pretty sad next to the others. But, together they decided to let the marigold have its day in the sun.
The marigold LOVED the sun. Soon it looked healthy and strong, though still very small. As the days and weeks past it started to grow taller, finally catching up with the other marigolds. However, while the other plants boasted beautiful blossoms of yellow, gold, and orange, Samuel's marigold still had no blossoms, or even buds. Each day Samuel would run outside to water his flowers and check for buds on his plant. Each day he found nothing.
By August his plant was twice as tall as any of the others. Mother began to question whether this was really a marigold at all! It was growing so tall, but not really becoming "bushy" and still had no signs of flowers. The leaf shape and color was so similar to the others that she thought that it must be a marigold, but wondered why it did not flower. Was something genetically wrong with it? Had they harmed it in planting it? Was it not getting enough ... something? Sun, check. Water, check. Good soil, check (at least as good as could be expected in New Hampshire). The other marigolds in the bed were thriving. Though still small and squatty compared to Samuel's growing giant, they had beautiful flowers aplenty.
Finally, in late September, after most of the flowers and vegetables in the gardens around the house had met their end, a single bloom was spotted. In excitement Samuel announced to the whole family that his marigold had finally produced a lovely yellow bloom. Everyone was "encouraged" to come examine and praise this remarkable achievement. As the days passed, and in spite of the colder nights, more blooms appeared and the plant continued to grow ever upwards. Mother and Father had never seen a marigold so large, which may have something to do with the fact that there has never been a marigold that has been so loved and prayed over by such an earnest young man. Now 7 and in second grade, Samuel continued to care for his special plant (although Mother began to neglect dead-heading the others in the plot as the gardening season came to an end).
Sunday, October 19, 2008 Mother decided that it was finally time to get a picture of the boy and his plant, before the frosts destroyed the beautiful flowers. So, here we present Samuel the toothless gardener and his special marigold. No longer a 2-inch weakling it has long since surpassed Samuel in height!
Notes: First, I wish that I was a good writer - I should have Nate write this into a storybook for the kids. He has a much better gift for that than I. Second, yesterday I reading the October Ensign, and specifically Elder Nelson's article on abortion. As I wrote this story I was thinking about the parallel - this tiny struggling plant truly seemed to have no shot at survival, and look at it now! (He tells the story of a mother who had German measles or something like that in her first trimester and was strongly urged by her doctors and family to abort what would surely be a very "damaged" baby. She decided not to, and gave birth to a wonderfully healthy baby who suffered total hearing loss but grew into a wonderfully accomplished woman.)