My earliest memories are of gardening with my father. Our home was on the Bronx waterfront, with the beach as a backyard, so there wasn’t much space.
Daddy carved out a corner for a pear tree and another for a fishpond, complete with lilies, a turtle, and croaking frogs that found it on their own. We had a small vegetable garden and he planted roses for my mother. I once watched him dig trenches around the rose bushes and bury fish he’d caught off our dock as “fertilizer.” Thinking about it now grosses me out, but at the time I was transfixed.
I grew up helping him tend the outdoor spaces, as well as the indoor garden, with a miniature railway he created in a greenhouse that looked out over Long Island Sound. Storms took a heavy toll and there was always a lot of clean up and repair needed every spring.
When he fell ill, my husband and children teamed up to help my mother take care of the garden for him. He’d watch from his wheelchair, not saying much–as was always his way. I wondered what he was thinking–and worried it was too painful for him.
But the last day he and I spent outside together was an Easter Sunday, sitting by the fishpond at the Long Island Veterans Home, watching the birds and bees in the flower garden. I cherish that memory–and remember the look of contentment on his face just days before he lapsed into a coma.
These days, Daddy guides my hands as I tend my roses, plant flowers and vegetables, and cultivate the water garden my husband lovingly built along with fairy houses, gnomes, frogs, and fairies to make it our own.
My childhood home is now in another’s hands. Daddy’s fishpond was filled in to make a nice, flat lawn–on Earth Day no less. I wonder what happened to the turtles and the frogs. It is a melancholy synchrony that this post comes just days before the fifth anniversary of his death–on Father’s Day 2011. I hear Daddy telling me it’s all right–that life goes on.
I let the sweet smell of honeysuckle and the weedy tinge of clover bring me back. I savor the sound of my feet crunching on the few well-trodden footpaths carved into grassy sidewalks that have escaped the mason’s trowel. The sound of a tinkling waterfall transports me to a time and place when the little piece of heaven we called home was untainted by the ravages of weather, time, illness, loss, and sad goodbyes.
About the Author:
Gardener/writer Carole Ann Moleti has been gardening since she was old enough to remember. Her favorite things about gardening is the sense of peace and oneness with nature, bees buzzing, butterflies alighting, the fragrance of flowers, the field mice, frogs, and toads. When she’s not gardening Carole is writing in a variety of genres including spicy paranormal romance, gritty urban fantasy, memoir, and nonfiction that range from the sweet and sentimental to the snarky and irreverent. You can see her portfolio at http://amzn.to/23KBru8 and find out more about her at http://caroleannmoleti.com