Early summer. How I have loved this time of year!
Walking on the trail behind my house, in the park or visiting the beautiful gardens nearby always uplifted me. Life was good. The sun warmed but was not too hot. The wildflowers were abundant and the first of the annual seeds began to bear flowers. The birds at the freshly filled feeders sang me beautiful songs. Fruit at the Farmers Market was juicy and delicious. Even the seasonal thunderstorms were lovely in their own way, and the skies afterward were colored in shades of orange, red and gold not seen at any other time of the year. It seemed that no matter where I looked, an artist or magician had been at work.
Our community memorial garden dedicated to friends/neighbors Mac and Dania traditionally begins on Memorial Day. It used to be that I was knee deep in mulch, digging holes and planting. I loved it!
But this year is different. My heart attack has left me too weak to participate in any heavy work and lifting is prohibited. Recovery, I have learned, takes a long time. My doctors and physical therapists remind me to be patient and warn me that I will not be the same again. “Realistic expectations at your age” they gently remind me. After all, I am 77 and lucky to have survived. I try to block out their concerns. Sometimes it works. But pain and difficulty breathing bring me back to a harsh reality — I will not be the same again.
So this year I am instead the Official Planner and Administrator of our group. I went thru all the plant catalogs, reviewed my favorites with them, ordered the ones we selected, and yesterday, the first ones arrived. The color scheme for this section is orange and yellow – not my favorite colors, but it looks sunny and cheerful. The next section will be reds, pinks and whites. The zinnia and coreopsis are old favorites, and the other two are newcomers…I hope they are happy.
It turns out that it is not just my role with the garden group that has changed. I am learning that change is a constant in life and that I must adapt.
I am happy being part of our little garden group no matter what role I play. The sun still warms my body. The birds still serenade me. The smell of fresh mulch and topsoil is wonderful. We turn on the sprinkler and give a celebratory cheer!
I am with people I like who share my love for gardening and the outdoors. They accept me as I am now and do not dwell on the changes. They are helpful and considerate, but never patronizing.
I am like the new plant in the garden. I will have to take root in my new body. I need to be realistic with my expectations, take care of myself and not allow stormy weather to uproot me. I may not be the most colorful flower in the garden, and from time to time I will droop. I will have to find what fertilizes me and allows me to grow.
But most of all, I want to bloom!
Carole Leskin is a retired Director of Global Human Resources. Embarking on a second career as a writer and photographer concentrating on her personal accounts of aging, her essays and poetry, frequently accompanied by her photos, are published in Jewish Sacred Aging, Jewish Women of Words, Starts At 60, Navigating Aging ( a Kaiser Health publication), Women’s Older Wisdom, Time Goes By and Next Avenue. Her poems, “Father Time” and “Carole’s Debate” were selected for inclusion in the 2019 anthologies of poetry, New Jersey Bards. Her photos have been featured in Mart R Porter Nature Forum.