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Impatiens for the Soul

Gardening can soothe the savage soul.

By D. A. RatliffPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Images are free use—Image by sarangib from Pixabay.

Content Warning: Mention of mental illness

Impatiens for the Soul

D. A. Ratliff

Looking down at the colorful blooms bursting out of their pots, I remembered when my mother and I first planted these together. A lot of water has flowed since then—water for the impatiens and tears for me.

My mother always had a green thumb, and her love for gardening bordered on obsession. The only other constant in her life that she obsessed over was my father. My brother, sister and I meant nothing to her except annoyance. My father came first. She was so obsessed that she accused him of many indiscretions, screaming that he cheated on her repeatedly. Then he proved her correct. He left. The ultimate insult, he left her for another woman. One, he said, who could get her head out of the dirt and enjoy the things he wanted. A woman who trusted him.

My mother’s behavior changed almost immediately. She refused to see us and became indifferent to her appearance and health. Her obsession with gardening became a crusade, but when we realized she was digging up the entire yard to plant trees and flowers, my sister Kathleen, the oldest, intervened.

The doctors diagnosed her with PTSD, caused by the trauma of our father’s leaving her, but also felt she had schizophrenia, which led to her behavior before the divorce and exacerbated with the onset of PTSD.

We decided to place her in a residential facility after realizing we could not properly care for her at home. The facility she is in takes excellent care of her, even allowing her time in the gardens with a small plot of her own, but the medications do not work well for her, and she has continued to slip further into oblivion.

While mom’s behavior proved difficult, I inherited a love of gardening from the beauty she planted at our home, and my young daughter grew up loving flowers as well. Looking down at the beautiful impatiens we had planted, I told my daughter it was time to visit grandma. We would take her a pot of impatiens and help her plant it in her garden, thankful for the one joy we share.

Image used by permission—Image From Michele Sayre Personal Collection


Written for What's Next?, a weekly prompt on Writers Unite! on Facebook. Each Sunday an image prompt is given along with the first sentence of the story. Writers then tell the reader, What's Next?

Writers Unite! also offers a monthly writing project, Write the Story!, which offers an image prompt and a writer can write up to a 5000 word story utilizing the prompt. Now in its sixth year, Write the Story! has not only inspired writes who had never written a short story to do so, but also generated several of the participants to publish collections of the short stories they wrote for the project.

If you are interested in joining Writers Unite! on Facebook, use this link to request to join:


About the Author:

A Southerner with saltwater in her veins, D. A. Ratliff lives in the Florida sun and writes murder mysteries. Her work has been published in several anthologies and her first novel, Crescent City Lies, is scheduled for release in 2024.


Crescent City Lies

Her great-aunt was dead.


Now, she had to prove it.

Photojournalist Emeline Drake returned to New Orleans to claim her inheritance, only to receive menacing phone calls and extortion threats. Convinced that her great-aunt did not die of a heart attack but was murdered, threats to her life and those she loves mount as she stumbles across a fifty-year-old family secret. A secret that could get them all killed.

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About the Creator

D. A. Ratliff

A Southerner with saltwater in her veins, Deborah lives in the Florida sun and writes murder mysteries. She is published in several anthologies and her first novel, Crescent City Lies, is scheduled for release in 2024.

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Comments (6)

  • Nicho Carson28 days ago

    Congrats on your top story.

  • Congrats on your TS.

  • Cathy holmes28 days ago

    The story, while sad, is simply beautiful. Congrats on the TS.

  • Oh the therapeutic effect of gardening. Great story and life enhancing. Well done and congratulations on the TS Deborah

  • Rachel Deeming29 days ago

    This is a redemptive tale whilst also being sad. Really well told.

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

D. A. RatliffWritten by D. A. Ratliff

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