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Who Will Remember?

For the past 15 years I've admired your backyard garden. Each Spring the rows of vegetables looked so healthy. You had beautiful flowers that I'm sure you passed out to friends and neighbors. Pots were filled with cuttings and seedlings waiting to make their home in your rich garden soil. Your home looked like a cute little farm home. I could imagine it on property all by itself, surrounded by orchards, gardens and even a small flock of chickens. You walked everywhere you went toting a metal shopping cart and I used to see you take little cuttings of other peoples plants. I can still remember the day a couple of years back that the ambulance came to get your husband, a tall handsome man, most days in overalls. He didn't come back.....

I've wondered ever since how you've been. My mom lost my dad and was so lonesome. Her house quiet. Lacking hugs. Lights... I came to see your lights as a sign that you were OK. I saw you out working in your garden on warm summery days, wearing your apron and I imagined a nice hot pot of homemade vegetable soup with biscuits cooking on your stove. You had closer neighbors who I'm sure kept their eye on you. Your were like the neighborhood grandma.

Then, one day, shortly after the first of this year, I noticed neighbors and a police car outside of your home. It was a small crowd of people and as I drove by, I said a silent prayer for you, hoping nothing terrible had happened. Your son came shortly after that and I saw him having a BBQ in your driveway. "Good," I thought, "Visitors. Love. Food cooked by someone else." But I haven't seen you. Could you be sick? Visiting at your sons home? In a hospital waiting for visitors?


Today I saw your obituary. The day I saw the crowd was the day you left this earth. Your home suddenly looks lonely, lost, transformed to gray instead of white in the rainstorms of winter. Your curtains are closed and your garden is in its fallow state. Everything is in a state of rest. No "For Sale" signs yet. No furniture being loaded out. For that I'm really glad. I want to see everything stay exactly the same for as long as possible. My ultimate dream would be that someone just like you and your husband would call your home, HOME. That they would continue planting things every year. I miss your presence. As this year progresses through, there will be a lot of things I miss about you. When your fruit trees flower, I will think of you. When your annual spring veggies break through the dirt, I will think of you. I will think of you and remember.....

I didn't know you, but I should have made the effort to. Today, your name rings in my head, Antice Handy, 82, of Grover Beach, and I will say a little prayer of thanksgiving for you and your husband. I hope you are at peace and living in a little white house with a beautiful garden in Heaven.


Valinda Handy said…
I would like to thank you for your wonderful tribute to my mother-in-law, Antice Handy. You captured the very essence of her. Her garden was her pride and joy. She loved to show it off to all who admired it inviting them in for a tour. I remember the first time she walked me through it. I was in awe of its beauty and how much love radiated from her as she showed me all her treasures. Although she is gone, and her garden has gone with her, I was able to take many of her favorites to my home in Porterville, CA and hoped they would flourish as I had very little experience in gardening and the climate in Porterville is so much different. As I placed them in their new yard, I asked Antice to guide me so that they might flourish, and they have. And that's my tribute to Antice Handy. She has given me the gift of the garden and I'll always treasure our time together and the many memories of her.
Karen said… have no idea how much your response meant to me. I write never knowing if ANYONE reads what I have to say and it's nice to have comments like yours. Your mother-in-law inspired me to grow a little herb and vegetable garden as well. She seemed such a sweet and simple soul and I really do regret never actually taking the time to introduce myself and visit with her. One of these days when I see someone at the house, I will come and say Hi! It would be great to meet you! Until then, good luck with your gardening.

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