On a nearby street, there is a little brick house with a red picket fence in the front yard which surrounds the most beautiful little garden patch. This garden was the showpiece of the neighborhood, tended by a gardener who put hours of work each year into her little patch of heaven. There are gardeners like myself, who are haphazard in their planning, planting, and tending, and then there are gardeners like Linda who dream and plan and work every day on their knees in their gardens, and these gardens are the ones that thrive and show that they are loved.
I drove past Linda's house countless times through the years, and enjoyed the sight of her tending her lovely flowers. Each season there were new flowers to savor, but my personal favorites were the tall, colorful dahlias that bloomed in late summer and early autumn. I didn't know Linda very well; we had casual contact through the years as we raised our children and lived our lives within the same village. One summer, as I thrilled at the beauty of her dahlias, I sent her a note telling her how much pleasure her garden brought me each time I drove past, year in and year out. Towards the end of that season, Linda rang my doorbell and handed me a huge bouquet of her dahlias; what a special gift that was. I will never forget the joy of receiving that gorgeous bouquet.
Not too long ago, I heard the sad news that Linda was suffering from a progressive lung disease; that summer she kneeled in her garden, working along, her breathing aided by oxygen. The next year, I saw a group of people helping prepare the garden for the season. Often, Linda's husband was at her side as she worked. Slowly, it seemed as if the garden was shrinking. Though still beautiful, there was less abundance. This past summer, I noticed her husband out weeding and tending without Linda, and fewer flowers were blooming.
Both Linda and her husband died this winter, within weeks of each other. Too soon and too young!! As I drive past the pretty little brick house now, it looks so lonely and the winter garden so abandoned. And I wonder who will move into the house, and will they love the little garden as Linda did? Will they spend time tending it lovingly? Or will they plow it all under and plant grass seed. Will the dahlias bloom again this summer?
In memory of Linda and Peter, who brought beauty into our lives through their lovely garden and their kindness and generous giving of themselves to their church and their community.