Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dear Barbara, a Remembrance…

My friend Barbara died at 84 years young this weekend. I share this with you, because Barbara embodied the meaning of It Is What It Is. With chronic issues such as scoliosis of the spine, osteoporosis and celiac disease, she knew what it meant to get over it and move on.

I first met Barbara and Bob 37 years ago when I began working in the maintenance offices at a local pulp and paper company. Nurse Barbara gave me allergy shots and I knew her husband, welder Bob, from maintenance. Barbara was interested in a hobby of mine; that of collecting weeds, flowers, and various pods to dry and craft into arrangements. In those days, you were not able to buy dried products like you are today. So, Barbara decided she would collect things for me to dry⎯much to the chagrin of Bob, as they stopped along the roadside from here to wherever they were driving. Barbara never left home without her garden gloves and hand clippers; and I was forever nicknamed Podpicker by Bob.

Thus began a long and enduring bond of lunches and garden visits. With her love of perennials, Barbara shared plants with me one cutting or one shovelful at a time. By doing this, she instilled the gift of gardening in me. She followed me through my successes and failures in the garden and as I moved onto Master Gardening, becoming a Certified Professional Horticulturist, working at a nursery and public speaking on garden topics. For more than a dozen years she would sit front and center, smile and beam with joy, as she listened to my garden talks over and over again. She was as proud of me as anyone could be.

Why do I tell you my story? Because Barbara has been so intertwined in mine. She taught me compassion⎯as I watched the quintessential nurse care for many, and generosity⎯as she donated food and time to local charities. She showed me how to work through the ups and downs of chronic health issues with strength and dignity, and just what it takes to be a “hard gardener” (her words) who could tame the earth and help it smile with flowers. With her kind ways, and heartfelt love, we will all miss her; but one thing I know for sure⎯there is a place in heaven for “hard gardeners.”

With love, gratitude and friendship,

Santa Barbara Sunset courtesy of vgm8383