My dad was a horticulturist by trade. He built our Canadian garden from a pile of dirt, transporting rock by rock to create a small brook that meandered through our back yard. By November most years, everything received a blanket of snow.
We moved to California in 1966, but Dad died of lung cancer three years later. As a result, he never got to realize his dream of a California garden. I carry Dad’s memory, along with the dirt under my nails and twigs in my hair, whenever I spend time gardening.
My dad died in August of 1969. His sister, and my namesake Aunt Alys, also died in August, but nearly 40 years later.
I often feel lost this time of year, adrift in memories and full of melancholy. I’ve learned to let the feelings flow. Today a Google search revealed that a BBC radio show interviewed Aunt Alys’ neighbors shortly after her death. Unfortunately, John and Anne Matthews didn’t share this with me at the time, and now the program is archived and unavailable. So it goes. Somehow it brought about more loss, more tears.
If I could walk hand in hand with Dad on this warm August day, I would show him our garden, name the plants, and laugh about the botanical names that I can never keep straight. I would let him know that his little girl grew up and is now a mother to two incredible young men.
He would be saddened to know that Sharon is struggling with MS and that the pandemic has been unkind. The loss of a daily swim has rendered her legs almost useless. Dad would comfort her, and love her, and then he would do something to make her laugh. I miss that, too.
Dad would love my husband Mike, a kind and clever man with a generous spirit and a loving heart.
Most of all, Dad would be tickled to know that I inherited his love of gardening. I would give him a hug and thank him for passing on his passion and his favorite color green to a daughter who loved him then, and who loves him now. I wish we could enjoy time in the garden together one more time.