Monday, May 27, 2013

"One More Garden For My Mom"

This is taking place today in a city in the United States.

All around his house, neighbors are having parties, having family over for a holiday whose purpose is to remember those who died in war, and all those who served in the military.  But he isn't home.

He's in the rehab wing of a nursing home.

By now, he should have been starting his garden. It's unimportant where the garden is.  It could be anywhere. 
He's gardened for many years, this man who is now in his late 60's.  He never married, never moved away from home.  He's lived in the same house all his life.

Now, his mother is 101 years old.  A year ago, when she turned 100, the local newspaper commemorated the milestone.  She's a feisty woman, his mother.  I've known her for over 40 years.  She's a gem, and when we say goodbye, we declare our love for each other.

At her 101st birthday party, people flocked to her.  The owner of the restaurant, one she has gone to for many years, came over to shake her hand.  By the time you are 101 years old, it doesn't matter what type of person you are.  You are instantly famous.  All you have to do is look at the person and say "she/he's 101 years old!".  And everyone stops, and ooohs and aaaahs.

The years, in some ways, were kinder to his mother than they have been to him.  A couple of years ago, he was in this rehab wing.  Now, it's his mother's turn.

For her first hundred years, she never took prescription medicine.  She kept house, cooked from scratch, picked wild greens and flowers, took care of her son.  Now, their roles have reversed.  He must take care of her.

She doesn't want help. She wants to be able to move, to cook, to clean, to keep up with current events.  She does not want to be in rehab.  But she was put there after her third hospitalization since October of last year.  She trains as an athlete might, but her goal is not competeting in the Olympics-it is of trying to find a new normal.  For her, it is being able to stretch, to move, to walk.  She takes therapy for hours every day.  She works the exercise machines.  She hopes to come home in another few days.

While she works out, her son keeps her company.

He dreams of putting his garden in.  "I want one more garden for my Mom", he tells my spouse.

I think we all fear she won't reach 102, this woman who was alive when the Titanic went down. When soldiers went off to war in World War I, she was there. When they returned with the "Spanish Flu" and millions died, she was there. When solders went off to war in World War II, she was there.

And now, they are dying. Their memories die.  Our connections with those events die.  But, maybe not just yet for the man's mother.

The man will plant his garden. And, life will go on.


  1. What a lovely, moving meditation on mortality! Thank you!

  2. Oh, I do feel for this woman, trying to work out so hard so she can go home, as her mortal body fails her. Poor soul. So accustomed to being strong and healthy, even at 100. Quite inspirational and hard all at the same time.

  3. This story makes me appreciate the endurance of a woman who has lived through so much. And she's still trying to do her best. Everyone admires a strenth of spirit that will never give up.

  4. Send her my best wishes would you...and tell her I know just how it feels to feel as if you have run 3 mrathons back to back just in order to feel go girl!

  5. Awesome post, Alana. So well written and meaningful.

  6. What an amazing woman! I hope she does reach 102! I'd like to be like her some day.


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