My mother-in-law loved her backyard. She worked harder than anyone I know on her flowers. No special mixes or soil. Her fertilizer was some compost – egg shells and fruit peels. Every spring, bags and bags of dirt, but as I said, nothing special.
The front of the house looked nice, and inside she had a Christmas cactus that was pretty for the one week it bloomed, but the backyard was her special place. Gorgeous giant sunflowers grew along the back fence. She couldn’t wait to get rid of the mulberry tree that ruined everything around it. There was a crabapple tree that she hung windchimes and the occasional birdhouse on. It looked like a fairy playland.
When we visited in the spring, usually around Easter, we drove her to Home Depot for dirt. Pounds and pounds of dirt, and before we knew it, it was gone and she needed more, so off we’d go for a second trip to Home Depot. She didn’t drive, and she couldn’t carry that much on the bus.
She grew herbs and tomatoes, and we were sent home with dozens of them every spring.
After a while, the full garden became too much, and she began container gardening. It was unbelievable how nice the containers flourished. I’ve never seen containers grow so well. She had a green thumb, and passed it on to my husband who’s really great in our garden. He grew two pumpkins or gourds and we were all excited when we brought them into the house.
When we were visiting in June, she asked about her garden, so I took some pictures on my cell phone and brought them into the hospital to show her. She still hadn’t gotten the hang of any kind of technology; she got an air conditioner for the first summer in 2014 or ’15, but she was excited to see the pictures of the bright yellows and purples of her perennials that never disappointed her.
She died unexpectedly a few days later.
We drove down the following weekend for the memorial service. We had planned to take a few of the roots to bring some of her garden home with us. We’ll have to wait for spring to see how they’re doing. We might have to go back and retrieve a few more roots in the spring.
While I was in the bathroom getting ready for the service I noticed a bright, red bird through the window, outside in the backyard. A cardinal. He sat there long enough for me to get my cell phone and take a bunch of pictures including one that was mid-flight when it took off.
it seemed like an odd time for a single bird to show up.
Cardinals were my mother-in-law’s favorite bird.