Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Gift

G'ma wouldn't dance with me this afternoon. Not to the polka. Not to the waltz. And certainly not to the bebop. Yes, it was The Wednesday Social at the old folks home and the residents were out in full force. Free wine, free beer, free snacks --- almost like a fraternity party. Well, ok, not exactly, but as close as G'ma's likely to get these days.

There was a notice in the mailbox that a box had arrived, so we went to the desk and collected it and brought it back to the chairs where she'd been sitting with friends. We tried to open it. Was there a sale on tape? Were the contents so valuable that opening the box required 6 hands, 1 pen knife and 5 minutes of giggles? Suggestions were given, the box was turned over and over, the knife wasn't tough enough, and we finally just gave up and ripped it to shreds.

The ladies decided that it was the most fun they'd had all week.

Inside, an old friend had framed a picture of the African Violet she'd taken from G'ma's going away party. We had repotted them into nice pots and put them on the tables as centerpieces. When the guests left, G'ma handed each one a potted plant as a rememberance. We don't know how the rest of them are faring, but Arlene is doing a damn fine job with hers. Those blossoms were huge and the leaves were extraordinarily healthy looking.

G'ma says looking at the picture is enough gardening for her.

This, from a woman whose yard was filled with perfectly pruned bushes and shrubbery looming over narcissus and tulips and dusty miller and impatiens. A woman who had a vine creeping across the entire living room ceiling, hugging the corners as it wound its way to meet itself just like Katherine Hepburn's plant in Desk Set. A woman whose garden taught us all to eat fresh tomatoes and peppers and scallions. A woman who, as arthritis and old age crept up on her, still managed to get out into the yard and putter, even though she could barely bend. When the neighbor put up a fence, she chose, planted and cared for the plants in the new flower bed and the hanging pots and bird houses on the fence itself. The gardener may have mowed the lawn, but she was definitely in charge.

And now, she has no interest. Not in cacti, which require almost no help. Not in orchids, which, with a little care and nurturing would smile at her all year long. Not in lantana to attract birds to her porch nor a spathophyllum to green up the dull corner in her living room. I'll bring her fresh flowers and we'll vase them and place them but it's just not the same.

I want her to want to garden. I want her to be interested in the things which brought her such joy when she was younger. I want her to ask me if she can help me deadhead the morea lilies instead of asking to take a nap while I worked.

I want her back again.

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