The pandemic shortened the honey-to-do list.

I felt a twinge of guilt having thought all this time he used watching sports as an excuse for putting off the things I thought needed to be done the day after the last snowfall. This spring he didn’t have much of a choice since the only thing to watch are games in which he already knows the outcome.

I couldn’t contain my excitement when he pulled out the chainsaw. The day had finally arrived, after a decade of asking for the overgrown bushes to be removed, so we could actually sit on the front porch and see the acreage instead of partially dead limbs and birds nests.

When he said removing the 30-year-old bushes was going to be a chore, he wasn’t kidding. Who knew bushes grew roots longer and stronger than a walrus tusk. Wanting to give him a break, I offered to run the chainsaw but after my over enthusiasm with the Sawzall, it never happened.

Then we had seven tons of rock delivered. That’s a boat load of rock, but luckily we had the help of a Bobcat. After the first several trips I was confident I could operate it and begged for a try. Again with the past mishaps, he had to bring up running over the fence with the tractor, so that was a no-go.

The garden is planted. It looks like a resort around here, and just in the nick of time. Golf tournaments start up again this weekend as well as the grandsons’ baseball season.

Nearly every year, about this time, Dad would tell me how glad he was to be in his own home – to work in the yard and enjoy the flowers.

One morning, excited with the news the surprise lilies had bloomed, he called to say he was going to pick me some to take back to the office. We had our regular nutritious lunch – cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake – and I went back to work with lilies in a nice vase.

The next day he called, irritated I hadn't retrieved the flowers he had picked for me and wanted to know when I was coming. A lesson learned, early on during our struggles with dementia, was to go with the flow, so I apologized and said I’d get them at lunchtime.

With a different vase and a different batch of flowers, I took the lilies back to the office to add to the ones I’d retrieved the day before.

By the end of the week, Dad called to say he was disappointed I hadn't come by to get the lilies he had picked for me. I was amazed these four plants could produce that many lilies, but I reassured him I would be by at lunchtime.

He must have run out of vases because this time the lilies were inside a galvanized bucket full of rocks with a plastic jug holding the flowers and water, all duct-taped securely in place.

With the bushes now gone we can clearly see my favorite – Dads’ surprise lilies down by the pond.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at