Friday, July 9, 2010

The Last Summer Garden






Carol stepped out through the back door screen.  It had an irritating squeak that reminded her she needed to add, oil screen door to her list of things to do  She never kept a to do list until just a few months ago.  It was right after Jake died in January she began having anxiety and panic attacks, wondering how she was going to handle everything from the finances to taking care of all the necessary tasks around the house.  Over the twenty-eight years of their marriage Jake had spoiled Carol and she knew it.  He not only provided for her financially, he also took care of all the repairs and maintenance around the house.  She never got involved and though he always reminded her how spoiled she was and take she needed to take an interest in these matters he never pushed it.  He was old school he said meaning he enjoyed every moment of watching over her.  

Jake was eight years older than Carol and viewed her like a fine Japanese porcelain doll.  She was born in Japan though raised since a baby in California.  Jake was from the Midwest and was just weeks away from turning sixty-five when he experienced a massive heart attack while in Tahoe fishing with a few of his friends.  Carol was at work when she got the call and it was that call that brought her now to moments like this thinking about oiling squeaking doors and mowing lawns.   Over the last six months she found it difficult working through the transition from being two to being one. 

There were no children to lean on or share in the grieving.  Carol had only been pregnant once which turned our to a tubular and a matter of life an death resulting in a hysterectomy.  Jake was more than supportive to Carol during this time, he was there for her physically and emotionally every step of the way and it haunted her that she was not there for him in the last moments of his life. 

She moved towards the vegetable garden on the far side of the backyard.  It had been Jake's pride and joy every summer since his retirement.  He had always wanted to have the time to grow his own vegetables especially tomatoes.  There was nothing Jake loved more in the summer then fresh vine ripe tomatoes and over the past few summers he became a master at growing what he said were the finest tomatoes in Sacramento county,a county known as Sacra-tomato for all the tomato field and canneries in the area.  Carol really never spent much time with him out in the garden, though she enjoyed the fruits of his venture and gladly prepared all the squash, green beans and tomatoes to his liking which they feasted on and laughed over all summer long.  And as instructed she would package, using her gifts of creativity, all the produce they could not eat themselves so he could proudly distribute to all he friends.  He was rightly proud of his accomplishments but never failed to compliment her on her part in the process.  Summer was their season and here she now was walking toward the summer garden with Jake not there to greet her.

This spring in working through her grief Carol decided  she would plant some vegetables on her own, in honor of Jake.  She knew he would be watching, and he would be so proud of her doing this on her own.  But this afternoon as she stepped into the garden she felt a sadness overcoming her as the tomato plants stood tall waiting for her with several tomatoes now starting to turn red.  She looked at them and suddenly her sadness  took a turn to anger and she thought to herself;  What was I thinking? Why did I plant all these vegetables? Who is going to eat them? Who cares if I planted all these stupid things?  She found herself picking up the hoe and began hoeing slowly with a steady rhythm then faster and harder and harder still.   She started hammering the hoe into the ground, the moist soil flying all over the garden.  She started  talking to herself, and then began yelling at Jake.

"Why, she screamed, why did you leave me with all this? What am I suppose to do with all of these tomatoes?  Just what am I suppose to do with all these stupid, stupid tomatoes without you!" 
 
She slammed the hoe again and again and in the last swoop she hit one of the tomato plants slicing off the plant at ground level.   She looked down at the plant as it lay  in front of her and she started to sob.  The tears flowed down her cheeks and she fell to her knees next to the plant still bearing  the unripened tomatoes.  She lifted it to her breast, cradling it like a child and rocking it, unable to hold back the flood of tears.

"I am sorry Jake, she sobbed, I am so sorry, it is just that I miss you, I miss you so much."   

bkm

This piece was inspired by my friend Kathy who lost her husband a few years ago - the many conversations I had with her as she worked through her grief gave this piece its life....

34 comments:

  1. snap. superbly crafted tale...lots of great background building up to the tension...and of course tight emotions...great magpie!

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  2. Builds up to a crescendo of pent up grief.

    Lovely.

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  3. Loving and sad. But, let me tell you, when she returns in two weeks, that plant will ha sprouted new life, as will your friend Kathy.

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  4. Gorgeous Magpie and so true how all the little things in life bring a person to life time and time again, beautifully written.

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  5. Nicely written, very sad, I had a lump in my throat

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  6. bkm...this was a walk...a wretched walk through one woman's grief...wonderfully done
    and i loved how she cradled the tomato plant cut down too early...awesome

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  7. You do have a wonderful gift for writing! In the amount of time and words written here, I can feel the bond between this couple and the heart of the woman in her loss of her husband.

    Blessings & Aloha!
    (This short story is just a s beautifully written as your poetry!....thank you for coming by :o)

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  8. A poignant Magpie, full of emotion ... thank you for writing it.

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  9. A very well-written story, but so sad.

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  10. True grief- even if we tell our loved ones we love them every day we really don't know how much we love them until they are gone.
    A lovely poignant story-

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  11. A touching story. Grief has so many shapes.

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  12. Deeply sad,yet enlightning and true.
    Love what you did with this piece.
    Great work! :-)

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  13. Touching blog - my husband of 28 years died a couple of months ago, I understand your friends pain.

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  14. This was an emotional and touching story. Very well written, I just had to read to the end. :)

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  15. Dear bkm: This bittersweet story brought tears to my eyes; actually I am bawling! The emotional ups and downs of life beautifully and realistically displayed. The love that Carole has for Jake is described with deep intensity;"

    She lifted it to her breast, cradling it like a child and rocking it, unable to hold back the flood of tears'.

    Most excellent a short story! Thank-you!

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  16. wonderful story beautifully told a very heartfelt Magpie!

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  17. So true..so real..like watching a very touching movie!

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  18. There are so many thank you I must extend here to everyone for reading....I thought it may have started to get a bit long, so again I thank everyone for taking the time to read...blessings...bkm

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  19. A story will written. No puns or twists just true feelings. A look back, a time of emptiness, then growth. A will rounded story.

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  20. So sad and poignant -- well done.

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  21. A truely wonderful Magpie Tale, a bitter sweet story and very believable. Very emotional which came through in your writing, a very very good story. I loved it, well done.

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  22. very touching Magpie.

    loveNlight
    Gabi

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  23. Beautifully captured BKM. You show how a writer's being in tune with the people, places and experiences around her can really add life and strength to a piece.

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  24. Beautifully written. A great, great Magpie!

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  25. thank you everyone for your wonderful comments - would like to send a personal thank you for visiting and reading...heartfelt blessings...bkm

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  26. A very moving Magpie. Thank you.

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  27. Beautifully written and right on target. I lost my husband when I was 40 and you have captured what it felt like in just these few lines. I remember the anger and the loneliness.

    Quite an amazing piece!

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  28. Thank you Sue and Rocky Mountain Woman for your visit and kind words...bkm

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  29. bkm--wonderful story of loss and growth-great work!

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  30. This Magpie reached out, grabbed my heart and gave it a squeeze. Well done.

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  31. You captured the emotions so well. I was extremely moved while reading this. So well written.

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  32. Well written and moving. Lovely.

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