Monday, March 10, 2008


I made this collage for Illustration Friday's topic, "Garden".

Since one of the themes of this blog this month is Women in Nature, I thought I'd write about my friend, Lynda and her garden. Lynda has been fighting breast cancer for about ten years now. When she first started on this journey, doctors told her that the odds of surviving this long weren't good. She is currently undergoing the last and harshest chemo treatment for her cancer. She was told that she would be on this one for the rest of her life. It's left her very tired and weak, with a low blood count and low kidney function. So, when she told me about her plans for this garden, I was surprised, but happy to hear it. It could be so easy for her to dismiss the idea as being too ambitious right now.

I drove to Beaumont this weekend to help her get it started. The place she plans to grow her vegetables is at her in-laws house. In the back there are 8 or 9 raised beds that have been overgrown with about three years worth of weeds and grass. While we were busy pulling weeds and turning the soil, I asked her, "what does this garden mean to you?" She said, "recycling." I asked her what she meant, and she started to tell me about her father-in-law, Spud. These were once his gardens. He built them about 20 years ago when he retired. He was very passionate about them, especially his strawberries. He worked in his garden when he was well into his eighties. Once, not long before he died, his doctor asked him if he ever suffered from shortness of breath on exertion. Spud said, "define exertion." The doctor said, "when you're going about your normal daily activities." This eighty something year old man told his doctor that sometimes after several trips of carrying 80 pound bags of sand to his garden, he would have to stop and rest for a minute. We should all have that problem when we're eighty. Anyway, Lynda said it made her sad to see these gardens that were once the pride of such an energetic man who was so full of life become so overgrown like this since his passing.

Spud passed away about 2 years ago, so being the nosy friend that I am, I wondered why is it now that Lynda wants to start these gardens back up again. I pried further, "so you're doing this as a memorial to Spud, or does it go deeper than that?" She thought about it, and then said, "this is what kept Spud alive after he retired." I said, "so if you have no work, you die?" She said, "yes." But, it was more than that, because she added, "I can't give up now, I have gardens to tend to."

She also has work to be done at the animal shelter, puppies to rescue, foster, and find homes for. She won volunteer of the year for her work with animals. I think that all of this is more than just work for her. She used the word "recycling". In this context, it makes me think of the cycle of life. This garden is an integral part of that cycle. In spite of the gloomy forecast that the doctors give, she continues to fill her life with life, and give back to life.

Here's our before picture...

... and a few of the interesting things we found. Yes, I did actually help with the work in between taking pictures.


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

WOW! A GREAT and inspiring collage, a very cool story, interesting photos! YAY! Keep up the good work, both of you. I loved all the little creatures. :_D

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

What a wonderful person your friend is!

Anonymous said...

I think I'll just say that you've done a wonderful post and cover everything that way. Your collage is beautiful, but I have to be honest in saying that it is your written post that touched me most. Thank you for sharing it.

bluerose9062 said...

Thanks Mary! Lynda likes to photograph nature as well, so I was going to see if she might join us here.

Thanks Shani! Lynda's definitely an inspiring person.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Yes, I agree, your words are very touching! :-D

Anonymous said...

a beautiful illustrative collage, and inspiring and beautiful story, I can't wait to see the photos of her garden in bloom!!

a : )

---Michael--- said...

The concept of recycling involves more than just returning cans and bottles... it embraces reuse, repair, and reconstitution of things we have, rather than discarding and replacing them. Perhaps this is what your post text refers to. People with problems (no matter what those problems are) have a spiritual need to belong and to contribute to the world, not be warehoused, cared-for and coddled. And if what they do rehabilitates their environment, my gosh, that is a miracle of achievement!

bluerose9062 said...

Michael, I'm sure Lynda would agree with you. I'll forward your comment to her.

Thanks Andi. I hope to have more pictures soon.

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