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How to Be a DiNozzo

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Chapter 7 – Gardens – May 2026

"Any ideas for what to get Ima for Mothers' Day this year?" Tony asked the five young DiNozzos. He'd offered to take them all to get haircuts while Ziva got some 'me time.' She had appreciated his gesture; it had been a tough week with too many after school activities, Ziva working at NCIS two days instead of one, and Tony stuck in conferences all week.

"Chocolate ice cream," LJ piped up. "With chocolate fudge topping and chocolate sprinkles on top. Oh, and chocolate candy too."

Beth laughed, "That's your favorite, LJ. Ima likes chocolate, so we could buy her some candy. How about some flowers?"

"No, too common," Anthony added. "We have to find something special; something that will make Ima think of us when she uses it or sees it."

"How about some plants for her garden?" Rivka loved to help Ima with the raised flower beds of flowers and shrubs. Ima taught her about the various plants and how to care for them as the two worked side by side.

"I like that idea, Riv. We could go to the garden center and get some plants," Tali was thinking out loud. "I know she wants to put more plants in that raised bed she made in the back corner of the yard."

"But we have to make it special; not just any plants," Anthony replied to his older sister. "They have to be plants that are important or make her think of us or someone else."

Tony glanced at his older son, "I think you're on to something, Anthony. What if we make a memory garden for Ima? We can put in plants that represent people we want to remember forever. Maybe even put some memory stones with names…"

"YES!" all five chorused in response to their Abba.

Tali remembered someone and turned to her father as they walked to the store front for the salon, "Will we put a stone for Grandducky? Please?"

"For sure, Tals. And we can put stones for your Doda Tali, your namesake; Dod Ari; Savta Rivka, your sister's namesake; Saba Eli; Senior, Anthony's and my namesake; and Grandma DiNozzo, Beth's namesake," he replied.

"What about me, Abba? Do I have a namesake?" LJ piped up.

"Yeah, you have two; Grandpa and Grandpa's father. So, yes, we will put a stone for Jackson Gibbs as well." Tony was glad that the kids seemed to like the idea of a memory garden; the more they talked about it, the more he liked it as well. It would be not just for Ziva, but also for all of them to remember family and friends who were no longer with them. As the twins were called for their turns for haircuts, he started making a list of what they'd need to get for the garden.

As the boys' turns came, he pulled up the website for the local garden center and looked at the varieties of plants available. The kids chose hostas, Virginia bluebells, camellias, lilac shrubs, plumerias, and tulip, daffodil, gladiolus bulbs from the pictures on the website. Tony added the plants to his wish list on the site so that when they went to the store, he could pull up the list to shop.

On the website for the home improvement store, he found kits to make the memory stones. The kids helped him pick which ones to get and he completed a buy online, pick up in store order that would be ready the following day. By the time it was his and Tali's turns for haircuts, the six DiNozzos had the garden mostly planned.

On the way home, they stopped at the garden center and looked at plants. Tony had several held for him to pick up the following day when he made the run to the home improvement superstore for the items he ordered. The kids chatted about the memory garden all the way home. They were excited to plant something special for Ima.

When the family walked in the house, Tali made her siblings promise to keep the garden a secret from their mother. All four of the younger DiNozzos agreed that it would be fun to make the garden a surprise; that lasted all of ten minutes.

LJ was listening to his parents talking about dinner plans. The family was going to their favorite pizza place for dinner. "That's the one next to the garden store, right?" he asked. "The one where we put the plants for Ima on hold?"

"Shh, LJ!" Riv scolded her little brother. "It's supposed to be a secret about the garden for Ima!"

Ziva looked at the two children, "What garden?"

"We're not supposed to tell," LJ grinned at his Ima. "Tali made us promise to keep it a secret that we are making a memory garden for you."

"LJ! You just told!" Beth sighed in exasperation. "A secret means you don't tell."

Tali came into the room as her sister spoke. "What did he tell?" she asked Beth.

"About the memory garden we are planning to make for Ima. He TOLD Ima!"

"Oh." Tali glared at her little brother.

Sensing an impending argument among the siblings, Tony decided to intervene. "Maybe it's better that Ima knows; that way she can help choose the plants and other decorations." He looked at Tali, and then at the others. "It would have been difficult to hide that we were working in the yard anyhow."

"I love this idea!" Ziva hugged LJ, who was feeling bad about spilling the secret. "We can all work together on getting the plants in the ground. Maybe I will even share some stories about your Savta and Doda Tali."