Category Archives: Home first memoir

Only child goes out into the garden

Only Child and her late Mom in the backyard garden. Mom is sitting in a Muskoka chair.

This morning before starting work I went out into the garden. I do this every day to relieve the stress before it gets to me. The plan was to transplant some basil, nasturtium and a coleus, and put the hose away because we are supposed to finally get some rain. Then I planned to sit out on the patio and eat breakfast.

Instead I stared at some of the many weeds and started yanking them. I know weeding is therapeutic (especially when you pretend the weeds are your problems and/or the problematic people in your life). However, weeding is turning into a routine almost every time I head out into the garden. This helps with decreasing the weed population – for now. But there is more to gardening than pulling weeds.

I am enjoying the lush early display of roses thanks to our early hot weather and snapped a few photos this morning. I do “tour” the garden (and snatch up weeds as I walk around) and I do sit out in the garden and actually do nothing but drink wine or water and read a book. And eat my meals out on the patio or on the veranda while sitting in my new Muskoka chair (a holdover from my childhood when that’s what you sat on in the backyard or on the veranda).  Maybe the weed yanking is also a family holdover. My mother was a gardener and she did a lot of weeding. She also grew beautiful rose bushes, including red roses climbing around an archway.

Still, I can’t help thinking that I need an attitude change here. I need to go into the garden to enjoy it – whether I am weeding or reading or planting or touring. This is my escape from the harsh realities of my life. Heck, most of the time I don’t even take the cordless phone outside. If anyone wants me they can leave a message – unless they are telemarketers – they can go, to put it politely, where the sun doesn’t shine.

And speaking of gardening and reading. A study at Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands featuring people spending time in the garden and spending time reading shows that gardening relieves stress more than reading. I wonder if reading in the garden would relieve stress even more. Check out the study published in 2010 at http://hpq.sagepub.com/content/16/1/3.abstract

I did transplant the nasturtium and basil but left the hose lying in the driveway. We’ve had so many wrong forecasts of rain in the past two weeks. I’ll believe it’s raining today, when it actually rains.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child’s late Dad under Mom’s rose archway

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Home first memoir, Mom and Dad, Muskoka Chair, Only child memoir, Problems, Reading, Roses, Shopping

Only Child Remembers Mom

Only Child's Mother

My mom’s birthday is November 9. If she was still alive she would be 104. But she died at 63. Too young to die. Of course, I’m going to say that because I’m heading into that age territory later this year, so…

But the age and the date have got me thinking more about Mom. A psychic friend once told me she could sense her spirit’s presence in my house. And I have felt it, not inside the house I grew up in when I re-visited it, but afterwards at the nearby park where my friends and I used to play. I remember Mom’s weird  sense of honesty. In my memoir I have a chapter called “Mom’s Ten Rules of Honesty.” The chapter begins with

“Eat your dessert or the police will come and get you,” Mom says. She points to the front door and nods her head like I better do it or else the Black Maria will roll up the driveway and scoop me up into its dark interior.

I stare down at my bowl. Stewed huckleberries and apples. Black smashed berries and their dark juice seep through the apples. Yuck. Smothering the stew in vanilla ice cream can’t hide the taste of huckleberries, a taste that sits in the middle between sweet and bitter. But Mom insists on growing these strange berries in her garden.

“Sharon, did you hear me?” Mom gets up from the kitchen table, scurries into the living room and stares out the front window. “Oh, I can see a police car coming up the street; it’s turning into the driveway.”

I start to shovel the mixture down my throat. Then I jump up and take my turn at the living room window. Down the street, Mare’s father cuts his front lawn; Mrs. Armstrong sits on her front veranda, with her collie dog at her feet, and a couple of finned cars cruise up the road towards the dead-end street. Our driveway at 139 lolls in its usual empty state. When I finally get the nerve to look straight down at the veranda outside the window, all I see are the two Muskoka chairs – vacant.

Such was my mother’s twist of the truth. My legacy is rich with the fallout from my mother’s Rules of Honesty. She had a skewed sense of right and wrong. According to Mom, I had to tell it all as it actually happened, but she could tailor her honesty according to what she thought suitable for little ears to hear or what she wanted little people to do. Or she could stretch the truth by throwing in a little imagination. I compare it to a ruler, each inch (or centimetre, depending on your generation) from one to 10 being the equivalent of one of Mom’s Rules of Honesty to live life. The higher the rule or ruler number doesn’t necessarily mean the more significant the rule.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

To this day a strong sense of honesty, integrity and even justice stays with me. It is important that everyone is treated fairly and that covers the good and bad of each person. I’ve been taken to task for going after someone who has treated me wrongly or unfairly but I believe that if someone messes up they need to be held responsible. Often this means I confront the person – and that’s what I get the flak for. However, I also do the flip side of the coin and try to show my gratitude for someone who has helped me or is doing something good. An example of the latter is one of the members of my East End Writers’ Group who decided to help me with the publicity for our 10th anniversary celebration and did. Now, she is having a book launch for her memoir and I am doing my part to promote it and work it out so I can get to it (and the other book launch a few hours earlier the same day).

In case you are interested her name is Susan Siddeley and her book Home First: a memoir in voices is being launched Sunday, November 13, 4.30 p.m. at at The Flying Beaver Pubaret, 488 Parliament Street,  (just north of Carlton St. and south of Aberdeen). in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For more information on Susan and the wonderful writers’ retreats she holds in Chile check out her blog at http://losparronales.blogspot.com/.

Do I follow my ethical criteria all of the time? No. Was my mother perfect? No. But as I write near the end of this same chapter in my memoir…

Mother’s honesty didn’t just encompass telling the truth; it covered people’s basic integrity and how they dealt with the screw-ups, bad times and bad luck that always pop up in life. Nothing is certain except taxes and death, but the trick is to wind yourself through the days, months and years until you die – without falling into the muddy waters.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Book launch, Death and Dying, East End Writers' Group, Home first memoir, Honesty, Integrity, Life learning, Mother dying, Only child, Only child memoir, Responsibility, Sharon Crawford, Susan Siddeley