Rocking the Garden at 90

September 9, 2012 | By | Comments (24)
Mary Alice Bender

Mary Alice Bender promises there’s no missing neighbors buried under here. Photo by Chris Bender.

You want proof gardening keeps you young? Look no farther than Grumpy’s mother. When she sees a project that needs doing, she grabs the shovel and takes no prisoners! And gosh-a-rooney, did she surprise us last week.

But instead of Grumpy describing the action, today’s guest-post is from Grumpy’s younger brother, Chris. He lives near Mom, cuts her grass, and frequently brings over his laundry. Like any good son.

In My Brother’s Words
One of the following statements is fictitious.

My Mom turned 90 years old today. And she got to work.

In the middle of her back yard rested twin tree stumps, the only remnants of two huge oaks that had once hosted our beloved childhood treehouse. The stumps were rotting. Surrounding them was a circle of rocks she’d gathered to border a small flower garden. Over the years, rainfall and the constant advance of the lawn made them sink to the point where they were more grass than rocks.

Mom wanted to be rid of the rocks, so that I could mow all that grass unimpeded.

So she went out with a shovel.

She dug up all of the rocks, one by one, and gave the Twin Stumps a proper burial.

At 90.

What’s fictitious about this? Did I move the rocks? No.

Did she get her friendly neighbor, Paul, to move the rocks?


So, what’s fictitious?

Mom did it two weeks earlier, while she was still 89,

because 90 is too old to be movin’ rocks.”


  1. melodywatson

    It’s easy to find inspiration when you look for it… all around us. Happy 90, Mrs. Bender. And thank you for being among those who inspire so many of us to live more deliberate, quality lives.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm
  2. Virginia

    Mrs Bender, we share a birthday… Happy Belated! You are my new inspiration and I look forward to your next year’s project.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:58 am
  3. Tom Mann

    I honestly thought the fictitious part was Chris mowing the grass. Way to go, Mom Bender!

    September 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm
  4. Judi

    Moral of the story: Don’t let a big pile of rocks stop you!

    September 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm
  5. Dee A. Nash

    Way to go Mom Bender. She is rockin’ the garden and those pearls.

    September 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm
  6. Calloway’s Nursery

    Yeah! Mrs. Bender. You are an inspiration to us all.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm
  7. Mary Kellogg Lubetski

    Priceless! Go Mrs. Bender, and Happy Birthday too!

    September 10, 2012 at 11:23 am
  8. Donna Bender

    I saw the rocks with my own eyes. I’m 58, and I couldn’t have done it. She’s a wonder woman!

    September 10, 2012 at 8:32 am
  9. Toni – Signature Gardens

    Truly an inspiration. I can only hope I’m still gardening when I’m 90!! You go girl!

    September 9, 2012 at 9:48 pm
  10. Ruth Kilchenman

    She is adorable! That’s my kind of lady, gardening in her pearls.

    September 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm
  11. Pamela Radiant Frazier

    Adorable! Love it!

    September 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm
  12. Monica the Garden Faerie

    Awesome! Sounds eerily like my mom who’s 80 and does similar things with rocks. Though, I’m not as positive about you about missing neighbors! 🙂

    September 9, 2012 at 10:39 am
  13. Kylee from Our Little Acre

    Go, Mrs. Bender!! I just want to hug her.

    September 9, 2012 at 10:34 am
  14. Jean

    Your mom looks full of life with lots of get up and go! I doubt that age numbers will mean anything to her. Good for her! You go Mrs Bender! Show em how to do it when you hit 100!

    September 9, 2012 at 9:33 am
  15. SusiQ

    She did it all while wearing pearls.

    September 9, 2012 at 9:21 am
  16. Xan

    and she’s wearing pearls…makes me miss my mom…even when she was too ill to work in her garden and had a yardman (named Arnulfo), when i would call her and ask her what she had done that day, she would say, “I transplanted some lilies, etc.” I would respond, horrified, “WHAT Mama!” Then she would always reply, “No, not me, Arnulfo.” I still fell for it everytime because she always said it so confidently and matter-of-factly. Thanks again for sharing the photo and the story!

    September 9, 2012 at 8:58 am
  17. Jeanne K. Briscoe

    Go Mom! With a little assistance we’ll be doing what we like to do whenever we see something that needs to be done. This keeps us happy.

    September 9, 2012 at 8:50 am
  18. Donna Florio

    Thanks for pointing out the pearls, Janie–I missed those. Mary Alice is a lesson for us all–keep moving, and have passion. Just one question: how did such a happy-looking woman have such a grumpy son? Methinks Steve’s not nearly as irritable as he’d have us believe. . . .

    September 9, 2012 at 8:47 am
  19. Janie

    I love that your mom wears pearls whilst she gardens! My kind of woman!

    September 9, 2012 at 8:41 am
  20. Dolly Sarrio

    I love it! My Mom gardens everyday too and I pray she will be doing it in her 90s. I know you are so proud of your Mother. I am.

    September 9, 2012 at 8:35 am
  21. lisamazz1

    Delightful! Well done! You have all the materials on site! If her sons could manage those rocks into a “keyhole garden” she wouldn’t have to bend down to tend it and the rotting tree stumps below would add organic matter and help the garden retain water in times of drought “hugulkultur”…. but you’d still have to mow around a circle…. 🙂

    September 9, 2012 at 8:32 am
  22. Elizabeth Woodruff

    That’s what keeps her young and healthy!

    September 9, 2012 at 8:16 am
  23. Darryl Moland

    Your mom is cute as a button!

    September 9, 2012 at 8:06 am
  24. carolyn choi

    Good genes and gardening. 90 is the new 70 and Mary Alice gives us something to look forward to. Happy 90 !

    September 9, 2012 at 7:52 am

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