When Garden Art Comes Home

Garden Art Comes Home, Part 1

By AMG Julie

Little did I know when Bethany wrote her colorful article on Garden Art in the June issue of Across the Fence (publication of the Master Gardeners of Allen County, Indiana, of which I am Editor) that I would soon receive an unexpected gift of my own!

About 5 years ago I decided to send a letter to the owner of my childhood home.  There was a unique piece of garden art in the backyard placed there over a dozen years ago by my now deceased Mom.  Is it still there?  If it is and you find that you no longer want it, would you kindly let me know?  I didn’t hear anything and never drove by the house during that time to see if it was still there, visible from the street.  Life went on until I got a surprise phone call on Friday, June 5, 2020.

I found your letter in the back of a bathroom cabinet when I was remodeling a few months ago.  I have the metal piece sitting outside against the house in the backyard if you want it.  I figured it would be meaningful to someone.  Give me a call if you do . . . 

I was in shock!  Holy cow!  Mark J had removed the garden gate from the garden “hill”  on the side of the house, concrete and all, and had it neatly secured with pavers against the red bricks of the old house.  I talked to my husband (always up for a driving adventure), thought about it overnight.  And then I got really excited!  I called Mark on Saturday and said YES!  We’ll come get it!

My childhood home is in Warren, Michigan.  I had moved away in 1983 after college to the Chicagoland area then again north of Fort Wayne in 2007.  Favorite plants made the journey here as well.  But I never would have expected that this prized possession of the original garden master in my life would come home too.  I called my brother right away and had some fun reminiscing about our garden projects with our mother over the years.  I sent him photos of the garden gate on Saturday when Mark forwarded them to me.  Plans were coming together to drive up to Michigan on Sunday to pick up our new found treasure and have a quick visit with my brother and his family as well. 

The visit never happened.  Or at least not yet.  Twenty-six minutes before Mike would have received the photos that I sent by text, he went into a medical crisis that would end his life.  He never saw the photos.  We did not drive to Michigan that weekend.  I never saw my brother alive again . . .

The meaningfulness of this experience and simple piece of garden art is now greater than ever before.  Mike made his gateway to heaven the very day after our Mom’s garden gate came back into our lives.  When this time of mourning has passed, my beloved and I will make our way to Michigan for a Memorial Service and retrieval of a memorable artifact from my personal heritage.  It’s a little thing in the scheme of life yet I’ll bet that I’m not the only one out there with meaningful touch points in his or her garden beds that reflect your own stories as well.

I’d love to hear them.  JJ

It wasn’t meant to be

happy place, home, where the heart is, house, Christian, in the arms of Jesus
I placed a special welcome from her favorite store across the country in her room. Did she notice?

Maybe I did too much in my own strength, albeit waning and waxing until the day came.

Maybe instead it was obedience to the Lord that so many details were honored in anticipation of a good result, a finishing well.

Maybe the one that did not get cared for along the way was my own flesh and blood, although I really tried . . .

Maybe our need for firmness and clarity covered my love for her.

Maybe now that I am purging everything I can to clear my mind, my Lord will let me know what happened with this caregiver thingy gone awry.

Maybe there simply was no way this arrangement could succeed no matter how hard we tried.

Maybe there will be restoration one day, maybe not.

For today, I still grieve.

JJ

A time for grieving

Just can’t believe it didn’t work out.  Months of preparation in every way you can imagine and more.

Having trouble moving forward with the next event on the horizon.  Feels like trying to divert a barge in narrow waters.

Body is weak and riddled with pain from increased sickness and episodes for having tried this course.  Not sure how to make it go away really.

Slowly getting the house and our belongings back in order but not sure if I will finish in time.  Sad.

Money hemorrhaged out the door, the window, never to be seen again.  And she doesn’t care, neither do they.

Dealing with noxious symptoms like increased bug bites just plain irritates feeble  attempts to move forward.

Yet life goes on and meals need to be made, mountains of laundry finished with running here and there.

Can’t even get close to my beloved for a hug due to sequelae of this nasty condition called CIRS, MCS, TMJ, oy vey?

I feel so alone.  Lord, please hold me this night and let me know it will be alright.  I am just so very sad.  JJ

Psalm 73

What would suit her best?

That funny bush with the orange berries

That I found tucked in a nursery corner

Was her birthday gift many decades ago

And became another treasure of uniqueness, much like that of her own.

Or the specimen discovered from the zoo

When she found the groundskeeper

And pleaded to give her a cutting

To grow with her collection of rare finds and vagabond species too.

Perhaps the devil’s tongue would be it

That bloomed in the closet each Winter

With a stink much worse than her smokes

And a tropical canopy outside in summer:  uniquely placed in the Midwest.

Surely she would be planted on the hill

Where the orange pavers from Woodstock days

Used to mark the side door to the home

Laden with so many memories and metal trash cans covering some of them too.

Oh I’ll bet she’s still out there somewhere

For her ashes got sprinkled into the earth

Forever mixed with the fruit of her hands

And beautiful gardens, a spa, some whimsy, all in squared borders of suburban fare.

Oh mom, how I miss you this day

As I tend to my own soil and dig

Preparing for Spring flowers and food

Adding amendments, turning it over again until everything crumbles just right.

One plant in particular we share

From your garden and mine:

Those “bee bush” perennial sedum

That you made me edge around in the hot summer sun by back-breaking hand!

Oh how you would love

To see me hail a sharpened spade

Defining my borders so clean with

Just one more bed added most years ’cause it’s also a passion for me borne from you.

Maybe the climbing Baffin rose

I will dedicate to you, Rose Anne:

A rambler, a bit wild yet beautiful

Yes this you shall be in my garden scrapbook come alive where you and me will always meet.

JJ

William Baffin, roses, fuscia, pink, red, climbing, vines, fence, garden
Fuscia William Baffin Climbing Roses

 

For this I have seen

The darkest time of night

Brings hope in ways not the norm:

When breathing is restored and the room stands still

My mind clears and my Lord speaks in ways never heard before.

He knows my frame

And delivers me once again

With less pain overall these days

And more wisdom than trauma for all the suffering.

For alas I can go

To such a wretched place

Time and again whilst wondering “why?”

Only to find hidden answers just for me, in the those tender places.

Not all makes sense

And that can be o.k. in the end

When I know the Lord is at the helm

And uses my suffering for His glory, my healing, to bring light, and more.

No, it was not wasted

When I found you who came along

This way with me where the blackest times of night

Served to shine streams of sunshine into days once lived in shades of gray.

Oh to keep mediocrity!

That would be dreadful indeed.

To never see beyond vanilla, boring landscapes

Creeping traffic in the middle lane when the Audubon beckons in a Ferrari 458.

Mach 1 with your hair aflame

Is bound to singe your eyebrows too

But how will you know if you are truly alive my dear

If you have not seen, tasted death along the edges of life truly lived whoot, whoot?

Because when it is over

A job will be waiting for you as me:

To tell our stories to those stuck in the dark

Or on an exit ramp on the wrong road they once thought went nowhere too.

There is always more

Even when our breaths are numbered

When we each see the door to the last destination

And can no longer wonder if we did too much or too little when our past cannot change.

The door to eternity awaits us both dear one:

With adventure of which we cannot conceive;

A place filled with wonder and no more tears

Where our heart will be home, finally, at last.

Will you risk this to be true and come to Him?

Will you lay down your fight, the need to know

To let Jesus Christ be your true reason to live:

The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end.

Even when in our hearts we must let Him reign

Leading our thoughts and quieting all our fears

Adding His increase when no strength remains.

Finding this kind of peace transcends all we see:

We will find more than the mind can imagine for

We will live at peace I tell you for this I have seen.

:JJ

 

diaperthongGotcha!  ;J