Home again — home again — for a minute. My husband and I took the opportunity to go to Mass to say THANK YOU — for our trip, for our family, for our life. The church bulletin had an article about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, — a gift from the ancient Church of Jerusalem. “A legend among Orthodox Christians tell how all the disciples except for Thomas were present at Mary’s death and sat by her tomb for three days. On the third day, Thomas, who was teaching in India, saw Mary’s body rising to heaven. She greeted him as her friend. … Thomas, the one who expressed doubt at the resurrection of Christ, received a gift from Mary: the chance to proclaim resurrection faith to the disciples.”
WHY AM I SHARING THIS WITH YOU? Fair question — for a change — easy answer. In 1995, I spent the summer at our camper working on TO PAP, WITH LOVE, the story of our journey with my father through Alzheimer’s disease. It was on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, sitting outside before Mass, drinking a cup of coffee that I saw a black feather fall. The feather inspired my thought ramble FEATHERS, the fifth story in JOURNEY WITH ME. I planned to take another Creative Writing course in the Fall at our community college. If I said my writing DID NOT impress our instructor I would not be exaggerating in the slightest. In fact, he read everyone’s work and always put mine on the bottom of the stack — until later. I was surprised when a few weeks into the course he mailed me a note, complimenting me on FEATHERS.
When my father passed over, he gave me a gift — the knowledge that life continued on the other side. Like Thomas, I share my story with those who need it.
While we were in Florida, our family spent a day at Fernandina Beach. After lunch, we slowly wandered back to our cars. An author sat outside a book store signing her book. I stopped to chat and learned that her mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. Since I travel with stories in my mental pocket, I shared the story my father had given me.
The weather forecast warned of temperatures in the 90’s, high humidity and a triple digit heat index. We were at the camper with our grandchildren who provided plenty of activity, leaving no energy to spare for formal exercise. But they had gone home. I had not been able to do formal exercise for a few days. Although I have lost weight on the Fast Metabolism diet, I still have a LONG WAY to go. I had planned to take a week or two off of the plan but my husband suggested that I stay the course. “Your doing good, why stop now?” And I had to admit that he was right.
I also have to admit that except for a few wrinkles — no potatoes or wine for example, I have adjusted my eating to follow the guidelines. Exercise is part of the plan. I planned to exercise after our grandkids went home but you see I have “friends in high places” who are concerned for my well fare. It was VERY EARLY in the morning, 5:00 to be exact when the crows woke me from a sound sleep. I had NO intention of getting up, except the racket outside didn’t allow me to go back to sleep. I don’t know how many crows had gathered. There were many voices, each with his own opinion which was stated LOUDLY. A few times, they tried to out caw each other, getting their points across. Many years ago, I read that black birds are a symbol of the Divine. Whether they are or not, they succeeded in getting me up. The temperature was already 75 degrees.
The eating plan requires breakfast within a half hour of waking. I had my breakfast and changed into exercise clothes. We don’t have air conditioning in our camper. The trailer itself has a unit but it doesn’t cool off our whole area so we use ceiling fans. By the time I finished with the exercise I was drenched, and the outside temperature had already risen a degree or two. I will admit that I was happy I got an early start but I have put in my request to be able to sleep until 6:00.
I don’t know where my love of flowers and gardens comes from. My mother’s mother always had a garden with flowers and vegetables. Many of my aunts on my father’s side always had lovely flowers blooming in their yards. I inherited their love of flowers and when I learned of the Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois I knew I wanted to go. A short announcement on a television program brought it to my attention. There is something about the sound of falling water mixing with the stones and trees in a Japanese Garden that sets it apart from other types. We planned to go on Thursday until I saw the weather forecast. Just for fun — I was going to wear a kimono type dress that I bought in Oahu. Thursday’s temperature was forecast to be 94 and humid. We left very early on Tuesday morning, the temperature was already 73 degrees heading for 92. I wore a tank top and shorts. I’ll leave the kimono for another time.
We were at the garden by 10:30. We received a map detailing the various statues and buildings on the site. The garden is divided into two parts — the first is ancient Japan, with bamboo chairs and buildings, the second is modern — metal chairs, umbrellas for shade. Luckily there were many shaded areas and plenty of benches and other resting places. A light breeze was blowing as were made our way around. A few clouds passed by providing more shade. When I looked the garden up on the internet, their website had many lovely pictures of the garden which I thought were taken in May when azaleas were in bloom. I was very happy to see many flowering plants in various places in July. I loved the rocks — I saw a laughing face in one when we started our tour.
We heard the tall waterfall by the tea house before we saw it. I tried to meditate in a shelter near the waterfall but meditation has never been my strong suite. It is no longer possible to climb to the top bridge by the waterfall because of insurance. Sitting on a rock in the middle of the pond were 8 yellow and brown bundles, little ducklings snuggled together while their mother swam near by. A lovely gift. I wondered if they were meditating.
The map referenced a raccoon husband and wife. Although I looked for statues and rocks I had not seen the pair. While my husband rested, I retraced my steps without any luck. Luckily a workman was nearby who knew where they were hiding — and hiding they were. The wife sculpture was next to a bench, the husband behind the leaves of a tree.
I would liked to have spent more time in the garden but the temperature was already rising. I learned that it is also very pretty in the Fall when the leaves are changing. We will have to go back. Maybe then I will wear my kimono.
Since I started the Fast Metabolism diet I have been drinking Sassy water which was recommended in the Flat Belly Diet book. Besides water, it contains peeled cucumber, sliced lemon, grated ginger and fresh mint leaves. Returning from the camper, I needed to make a new batch. I picked some mint from the plants growing by our back gate — the plants were healthy, very abundant, getting ready to flower.
The next morning, taking out some recyclable material before the garbage men came, I noticed bare dirt were my mint had been. I was perplexed. Who pulled the mint? I found the remains in my neighbor’s garbage can. He pulled the weeds by his gate and our mint came along. My son told me our neighbor didn’t know it was mint, the plants looked like weeds. I rescued some plants, and dug a hole in a shady part of our yard far from my neighbor. Hopefully they will like their new home. Since I didn’t cut off the tops, the remaining leaves are even more dried out. I might try to salvage the dry leaves. Time will tell.
Time is telling another story. Many years ago when my children were in grammar school, our middle daughter came home with an adult man she knew from her friends on our block. My daughter is fair skinned, very blonde. The man was tall, muscular, the color of dark mahogany. The time was somewhere in the early 1970’s. Our neighbors were very concerned when they saw my children with him. My daughter asked if he could plant a garden in our back yard. My husband agreed. And so our family was adopted by Muscles. He loved to plant — our tomato plants were taller than our garage. Once I found a pumpkin vine growing near our fence. Muscles didn’t know how it got there. RIGHT! My dad and Muscles would sit together on the back porch and watch the garden grow. Muscles was born in 1900, my father in 1910. Muscles passed over before my father started losing his memory. Our new garage takes up most of our yard, we don’t have space for a garden anymore. I’m sure Muscles has a large garden in heaven.
This morning I noticed a pumpkin vine growing near the tree in our back yard. “Hello Muscles.”