Only Child finds changes in Mom’s garden

The rosebush I thought had died

Someone once said that change is the law of life. I don’t deal with change well, especially when it seems to just come at me from out of nowhere. Maybe one of the hardest changes is to see what happens to the home you grew up in after you move out. One of my blog readers after reading my last week’s post on my mother’s gardening. e-mailed me about her late mother’s rose garden and that she felt sad about it when her dad sold the house.

I think I did too when I first returned to the house where I lived as a child. The first time was when my son was eight and we were visiting his paternal grandparents in the same area.

On a hot summer day when my son and I visit these grandparents, I decide to show him my childhood home…. I chicken out going the direct route and we come in via the crescent along the ravine. When we reach my old street, I look closely to see if anyone I used to know is about. But you could shake the marimbas down the street and no one would even open the drapes.

As we near 139, I stop. A gas barbecue replaces Mom’s rose arbour in the back, but the rickety garage still stands.

“This is where I used to live,” I tell my son.

“Can we go in?” he asks, and without waiting for an answer he runs up to the veranda where a cat lounges.

“Hey, you can’t just go on the property,” I say. “It’s not ours anymore.” My eyes dart to the draped windows and I expect someone to peek, then come charging out the front door and ask, “What do you want?”

But the silence yawns like the cat in the sun. Martin pets the cat and rejoins me at the end of the driveway. We continue down to O’Connor and then over to the park where I used to play and then we return to his grandparents’ apartment.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Part Two, Copyright 2010 Sharon Crawford)

I think I was insulted that someone would remove my mother’s rose arbour and replace it with a barbecue. It looked so drab and colourless. I didn’t like the change – it was more than my Mom’s pride and joy being erased. She was gone and so was my childhood. But that’s change and you are supposed to deal with it. I did  – in steps – you wouldn’t believe the number of times I had to “sneak” back to my  old neighbourhood for a looksee at the old place and at the same time try to remain inconspicuous. And I didn’t do it right after this episode with my son. I waited until 1998 when I decided I was moving back to the area I grew up in.

But I did get back to the house – inside and out. It was pure serendipity,  thanks to a couple of impulsive actions, first by me, followed by my cousin Gene from Michigan.

But that’s for a future post. In the meantime I’ve had to deal with what I thought was the death of one of my favourite rosebushes where I now live (see photo above). Come spring it appeared to be deadwood except for one lone branch that turned green; then it died. I dealt with that change by hacking off the dead branches to a foot or so above the ground and planting a new rose bush in front of it. And I do have many more rosebushes on my property.

But today, when rushing in from running errands, I saw a peach-coloured rose, rich green foliage and more buds on that supposedly dead rosebush. I touched the rose and it didn’t go away. There are lessons here – besides the obvious – stop running through my life and pause to smell the roses. Change is a multi-faceted animal. Sometimes you really haven’t lost what you thought you had.

Now I hope the old and new rose bushes won’t fight over territorial rights.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Death and Dying, Gardening, Memoir writing, Only child, Roses

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