In all the times I had visited Grandma’s house as a child and adolescent, I had never realized the beauty of her garden. I had never noticed until after she was gone, how the garden complimented the house in a way nothing else could. Lively and full of color, much like grandma herself.
Like most kids, I never paid much attention or heed to what she was telling me about the flowers or plants when we watered them. Gardening took patience and dedication, two attributes I didn’t possess at the time.
Ever a fan of roses, several colored roses grew in Grandma’s garden. Pink, Magenta and Red. There were also Petunias, Orchids, and Daisy’s among others. These are the only ones I now remember. Grandma spent hours in that garden watering the pants and flowers, cutting back the roses, grooming the soil and planting and introducing newcomers to the field.
Every plant and flower had a space and a name, yet they coexisted side by side. Dotted with a variety of colors pinks, purples, reds, yellows and greens all popping and swirling every which way, the garden was like Grandma’s small Eden. Bees and beetles bobbled between the flower buds, birds splashed, swam and drank from the bird bath and rabbits and groundhogs fed on some of the flower buds and plants until Grandma caught sight of them.
The garden was well put together very much like Grandma herself.
But, now Grandma’s gone and so is the beauty of her garden.
Summer’s heat has ravaged the soil, sending cracks through the dirt and chocking out the plants. The few daisies’ that have sprouted are drooping and weepy. Weeds freckle the soil, cornering the already dying flowers. The white low lying plastic fence that once enclosed the garden lies broken and jagged, slipping deeper into the ground. It was struck by a snow plough and was never mended.
Plants cower under the sun’s strong gaze, their stems prostrate and their color yellow. Groundhogs and pests feast on the few plants and flowers with blooms, stripping them of their beauty. It’s a glaring contrast to its former state, but serves perhaps as the best sign that Grandma is indeed gone.
It remains barren, abandoned and pillaged.
When I started staying a few times a week at Grandma’s house during the days I interned, I often felt scared and bored. The immense 11 bedroom house stood quiet and disorderly when I first arrived. Countless items and trinkets sprinkled every counter and surface of the house. Candles, china, vases, books and more. Old floorboards creaked and spoke with my every move, my shadow loomed and hovered over me as I walked the long dimly lit narrow hallway to the upstairs and the ceiling fans spun and cursed with their rotations.
Was this how Grandma felt? Alone and overwhelmed in a forgotten place?
My initial reaction to combat the silence and stillness was to turn on every light in the house and leave it on throughout the night. I’d spend much of the afternoon outside walking and jogging. I’d run errands. And when I did turn in for the night I’d blast music, talk to my boyfriend until the early hours of the morning and leave a movie on to fall asleep to.
Slowly my dad, aunts and uncle began clearing out the house. The estate sale brought in a slew of ran sackers who took whatever they deemed valuable leaving the house in a state of disarray. The room I stayed in had books and articles of clothing strewn about it afterwards. My aunt had whatever was left donated or thrown away.
Then the walls were painted white. The old carpeting was removed. Furniture was tossed, given away or taken. And now the house is on the market. In a few weeks, my internship will come to an end and I won’t stay at Grandma’s anymore.
I won’t be able to sit on the front porch and listen to the sound of Grandma’s wind chimes in my head. I won’t be able to watch jets cross the sky from the front steps as the sun disappears behind the clouds. I won’t be able to read, write or listen to music freely with focus and clarity.
I used to think that when someone died you buried all your memories with them. But, I learned that, that’s not the case. I see and hear Grandma everywhere. I see her in my sister. I hear her in her laughter. I see her in my brother’s smile. I hear her in my brother’s voice. I see her in my aunt and all she does for me. I see her in my shadow and I see her in the sky. She’s in music and she’s even in the ocean.
I know she’s with me, but I don’t want to let go of the one place she’s always been.
I’ll miss visiting her house just like I miss the beauty of her garden.