Today I drank my coffee out of a cup he gave me many years ago. He called me his garden girl, and he was so pleased to find this cup that he could hardly wait for a special occasion to give it to me.
When we got married, he promised me one day of work in the garden every year. When he died 26 years later, he owed me 26 days. . .
Gayland and hot hard sweaty work just didn't exit in the same universe. Now, he WAS lavish with praise of MY work in the garden. He learned early on that it was a really really really really bad idea, when I had spent eight hours on a hot day digging out and planting a new flower bed, to say, when I proudly showed it to him, "Don't you think that bush would look better over there?"
Having a spade thrust into his hand and me saying, "OK, you can move it," and then me stomping off taught him that that probably wasn't the wisest move.
He loved the garden. He loved it year round. He especially enjoyed spring in the garden, when old friends reappeared -- the Lady Banks rose especially -- and new ones were planted.
And I would point to a teensy shoot of green and he would grin and say, "Oh, that's fabulous." And then he would laugh at me and himself. His joy in the garden was all tied up in his love of me and this place, as mine was tied up in my love of him and this place.
And you know what? The garden doesn't care. It simply goes on, doing what gardens do, no matter whether humans are laughing in it, or weeping.
The absence of this one man, the empty chairs where he sat, the tables on which he put his drink, the empty walks along which he strolled with the dogs each evening before bed -- they are as nothing to the garden.
And, for now, the garden is nothing to me.