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told us that day. “I haven’t named it yet, but I like it a lot.”

So did we. The mauve petals were expansive with ruffles along the edges and a pale yellow stripe in their centers. Its throat was gold like morning sunshine.

“It’s magnificent,” I said, sounding surprised, because I was. I had no idea that my uncle was so into plants and flowers, and the notion of this news still had me reeling.

And after standing there admiring Uncle Lamar’s daylily, I finally said, “Call it, Hunk. Isn’t that your nickname? Hunk?”

He nodded, laughed, and released the flower before moving to the next flowerbed. Before we left that day, he demonstrated how he hybridized his lilies by taking the pollen from the stamen of one daylily and putting it on the pistil of another. “It’s pretty easy,” he

added. In the years that followed, I made a point to visit more often and try to get to know him better. I asked him questions about my grandparents. I asked him about growing up with my father, Herman, who died in 1992. I asked him about the farmhouse’s history. He indulged me with a few stories, telling me about a dog he and my father had one time named “Tiger,” because it had stripes. He told me about roofing houses with my father and grandfather.

He talked about his time working for the railroad. He gave my husband and me stock tips. He talked about his brutal battles with the IRS. He talked about a giant, recordbreaking rattlesnake that supposedly lives in the old leaning tobacco barn.

“He watches my every move,” my uncle said with a laugh. “He’s waiting for me to let my guard down.”

I even tried a shot of moonshine in his kitchen a few summers ago. I think he told me that it was made from grapefruit. What I remember vividly is that it lit me up.

Hearing and watching him talk fills a void somewhere deep inside me that I didn’t realize I had, reminding me of my Lanier roots. His speech patterns and mannerisms are much like my grandmother (Maggie Mae), my papa (Henry), and my late father, and so our visits magically transport me back in time to people I loved — to people I miss.

This week, a daylily from the Lanier farm bloomed for one day and one day only in my yard in Northwest Georgia. It was a very pale yellow — almost the color of cream. That daylily was as unusual and exotic as the Lanier side of my family, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It reminded me of Uncle Lamar and his tending to his beloved flowers on the farm of my people. And while each fragile bloom — like the cherished people in our lives — grace us only briefly, those roots run deep below the surface. We can’t see them, but they are there.

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