Saturday, October 24, 2009

Death and Gardening

The matriarch of my community garden died last week.  She was 85 years old and the last time I saw her was about 6 weeks ago. She was sitting in her chair, in the middle of her garden plot, directing her daughter on how to weed.  Her memorial service was yesterday, at St. Albans.  A number of gardeners attended and we all told our "Ruth stories" after the service.  When I first moved to DC, 9 years ago, I was walking home from Turtle Park with my children.  Friendship gardens was sitting at the top of the hill, across from the park.  We took a detour and walked through the garden.  I asked someone who was working his plot how to obtain a plot. He gave me Ruth's name so when I returned home, I called her.  She called me back a couple of months later to tell me she had good news and bad news.  The good news was there was a small plot available but it overgrown and needed work.  The bad news was I had to pay a one time fee of $10.  I took the plot and paid the fee.  Over the years, Ruth offered me bigger plots as a reward for being a tidy gardener.  When I finally made it up the hill to the large plot adjacent to hers, she and Marina (another gardener next to me) welcomed me by saying "we are so happy to have you up here".

My mother lives in rural Maine.  In Maine, there is a cemetery plot on every little road.  Several years ago, my mother bought two plots in the cemetery that is on her street.  Her partner asked her why she bought two plots and she replied "I thought Stacey would want to garden on one".  I tell my kids whenever the opportunity arises that they are to dig a hole on one of those plots, throw my ashes in and plant a tree.  I'm not a religious person but there is something spiritual about the thought of fertilizing a tree.

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