When it comes to the best Father’s Day gift ever, I must confess this one came from what I am sure is a little help from someone who has been looking down and watching over me for some time – my Dad.

I was just 13 when my father passed away from battling cancer. Too young to really understand it. And too young to know just how much I would miss him for the rest of my life.

But in those 13 all-too short years, my father passed a tremendous amount of him on to me.

Like his love of wood-working, gardening, working outside – and probably most of all, building and creating projects from anything and everything.

best fathers day gift ever
The two people that passed on so much to me – my Mom and Dad.

In fact, nearly all of our DIY plans in our little Etsy shop can be traced in someway to something he once built. He simply loved to build and create.

One of the best examples of that can be seen today, in our farm’s barn that sits proudly in the middle of the property.

A Little History

Mary and I built the barn by tearing down two old barns – and rebuilding one from the remnants.

One of those barns just happened to by my fathers. A barn, that believe it or not, he himself had torn down from an uncle’s farm and rebuilt at my childhood home nearly 40 years prior.

Yes, my dad passed a bit of thriftiness along to me as well :).

One of the best things I remember about the project was finding Dad’s handwriting on boards and beams. Notes he scribbled to help in the rebuilding process. See : The Barn Project

best fathers day gift
My dad’ barn as it stood in early 2000.

There are actually quite a few family “heritage” items from my Dad on our little farm. I still have many of his old tools, along with his home-built flag pole that flies our country’s flag proudly over the barn.

But this year, I am pretty sure he had a hand from above in helping me to keep something else alive.

The Best Father’s Day Gift Ever

When we first planted our little vineyard at the farm, I remember wishing there could have been a way to have had a start of the grapevines that dad had planted when I was growing up.

He had built a homemade arbor from recycled piping. I can still remember as a child the canopy filling with grape leaves and grapes every year.

farm to table dinner
Our “recycled” barn after completing it in 2012.

I think he had gotten the “grape” bug from his mom, who grew grapes and made wine and jellies her entire life.

Born in 1899, and coming to the US through Ellis Island at 15, my grandmother was an amazing woman who lived to the incredible age of 99.

So with all that history, it would have been really neat to carry on a bit of my dad and some of his grape vines.

Although my mom still lives there today, the grape arbor had finally succumbed to age, and had been razed many years back.

But it just so happened that last year, growing in a bit of the grass around it, there were a few feeble starts of the grapes poking through the early summer soil. And I mean very feeble!

We brought the tiny clumps home in a bag, knowing full well it was a million to one shot to have them survive. Especially with a summer transplanting!

Our little vineyard
Our little vineyard at the farm. I had always wished I could have had a start of my dad’s grapes from my childhood home.

Taking A Shot At It…

We gave them our best shot. We planted them in rich compost. Covered them with a sleeve for protection, and watched over them as best we could.

Much as we expected, they struggled mightily. Of the 5 tiny starts we planted, three died within a few days.

The final two barely held on. And as early fall set in, lost their leaves without growing so much as an inch.

We really weren’t sure if it was due to their deciduous nature, or that they simply lost their battle as well with nature.

A Long Cold Winter

And then winter came. We prayed for a mild winter to protect what I knew would be shallow, fragile, and most likely already deceased roots.

best fathers day gift
The sad tiny grapevine late last year. There was little hope it would ever come back.

But unfortunately, winter was anything but mild. It was long. And it was brutally cold.

But perhaps even worse, the cold and snow lasted well into March. And there were no signs of life on either of the two plants.

This past winter had taken it’s toll on many plants in our landscape. Including freezing out two protected rose bushes and several ornamental grasses. And if you know ornamental grasses, they are hard to freeze out and kill!

And so the prognosis for those two remaining grape vines didn’t look very good.

Nothing Short Of A Miracle – The Best Father’s Day Gift Ever!

But as late spring arrived, I was amazed one day to see a tiny bud appear on one of the plants. And within in a few days, that lone single plant was covered in leaves.

It was nothing short of a miracle.

the best fathers day gift ever
The miracle grape vine – coming into full bloom this year!

And then, incredibly, the 2nd plant, no more than an inch high at this point, sprouted as well.

As amazing as it was, we now had two incredibly hardy grape plants grown from the original vines of my father’s grapes alive and well.

As summer now approaches, they have both taken off. In fact, the largest of the two is already reaching for the second cordon line in our little vineyard.

A proud testament of strength and perseverance, and an incredible gift to always remember my father by.

The 2nd plant's fast spring growth
The 2nd plant’s fast spring growth. To have two of the vines make it is nothing short of a miracle.

Honestly, it really is and will always be to me, the best Father’s Day Gift ever.

Here is to the past – and the future. Thanks for looking out from above for those grapes Dad!

Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary

The Best Father’s Day Gift Ever! A Gift From Dad Above

9 thoughts on “The Best Father’s Day Gift Ever! A Gift From Dad Above

  • June 17, 2019 at 7:56 am

    What a wonderful legacy. No doubt your dad is smiling down on you. ;0D

  • June 17, 2019 at 3:24 am

    That’s a sad coincidence! My dad died when I was 13 as well, after battling leukaemia! Unfortunately though, I have no memories of him whatsoever.

  • June 16, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Funny how plants can remind us of our family. I have a Fig tree from my fathers tree. I think of him when I see it. Love it. Every time I see a Jonquil I think of my Grandfather. He had a walk lined with jonquils. I have Four Oclock flowers on the side of my home because I remember my Grandmothers plants. Loved your Grape vine story. Hope your Fathers Day is wonderful.

  • June 16, 2019 at 9:39 am

    This totally confirms my conviction that plants have an incredible “will to live”! Thanks for sharing this amazing story. This miracle of growth was worth all your effort and care!

  • June 16, 2019 at 9:32 am

    A good grape is tough. So glad you have them. Perhaps a few grapes to enjoy as well.
    After I was widowed, I left my land to stay in a city an hour away to work and pay off bills. I was away 12 years. I knew one grape vine had survived. I didn’t know which it was till it bore fruit. We’d planted 6 vines to grow up on a welded scrap metal arbor. 3 of the plants were Thompson seedless grown from cutting we brought home from a vineyard near the little ranch where my late husband grew up. We had recut them and kept them in damp sand until several took root. My mother had also given me 2 White Concord vines. And I had purchased a seedless red grape.
    I was surprised to see 4 vines come up. It turned out 3 were the rootstock to grafted vines. They have never grown much or produced a thing. I may yet practice grafting on them.
    The other was one of those we had started from cuttings. With water and a bit of care that one has covered about 2/3 of the entire arbor. Last year it bore 43 hugh clusters of grapes. If the bloom this year is an indication of the harvest, it is more than twice of last years harvest. Best of all is the happy memories attached to that vine.
    I have a few more grapes to add this year. I welded the arbor from old rebar pieces. It is almost 8 foot tall, 30 ft long, and close to 10 ft deep. My plan was to set a table under the canopy of vines. This year that will Happen. Its a lovely cool shade in hot weather.
    2 of the vines were ones I’d purchased last year. Due to an unplanned broken leg, they were left sitting in a bucket. Their leaves all turned brown and fell off. I figured they were a lost cause. They sat all winter into our late spring. Just dead twigs sticking out of the packaging they came in. Suddenly last week I noticed leaves on two of them.
    First the broken leg, then a series of other injuries and two surgeries in just over a calender year. I lost a lot of things to simple neglect. Those two greening vines have sat in a bucket for over a year. No care. Below zero weather several times during the winter. They will get planted. I dig a bit and rest 2 day’s and dig a bit. The last injury was a torn hamstring with one ligament compleatly torn in two. The muscle is healing but I refused a 3rd surgery in the year. Using a shovel is slow going but if they are that determined to live… I’ll get them planted.
    Happy Father’s Day.

  • June 16, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Such a beautiful account. Thank you.

  • June 16, 2019 at 9:16 am

    How exciting for you all! Trust you have some grapes maybe next year.

  • June 16, 2019 at 8:50 am

    What an amazing and beautiful story! Thank you for sharing.

  • June 16, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Goose-bumpy goodness! So much wonderfulness!! You found the little sprouts (amazing) and that two took off after a long, hard winter. WOW! I am thrilled with and for you!! I know your father had a hand in finding the tiny plants and the two remaining plants thriving. I love this and I thank you for sharing all aspects of this family heritage story.

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