Thursday, October 26, 2006

Guardian of the garden

I lived in Victoria for almost twenty years, and whenever I drove over to Adelaide to see my family, my mother and I would take a ceremonial walk around her big garden and she'd give me a running commentary on how everything was going: what was doing well and what badly, what was blossoming, what had new shoots, what needed dead-heading or de-bugging.

Whenever something in the garden died, she took it as a personal affront. Her particular euphemism for 'died', as applied to the garden, was turned up its toes. (None of this 'RIP Phlox, fell asleep 25/12/06' type molly-pandering for my Ma, although she did occasionally also say that some hapless bit of vegetation had gone to God.)

Readers lucky enough still to have both parents and not to be estranged from either will not yet be aware that you go on talking to them after they die, and that the line between the dead and the living is nowhere near as clear as you think. So this morning it didn't seem at all strange to be reporting to my mum, wherever she is, that the self-sown oregano growing up through a crack in the path has for some unknown reason, and overnight, turned up its toes and gone to God.

As I formulated this thought I heard her voice as clear as day. Well, hurry up and take a couple of cuttings and pot them before it's too late.


shula said...

I actually find that I talk to my folks even more than I did when they were alive, if that's possible. I hear them in my head, clear as day, mostly laughing uproariously at something or other, usually at my expense.

There is no escape.

TimT said...

Brings to mind this stanza by Yeats which, though full of 'manly' nouns words that may not be quite right in this context, is still apposite:

Many times man lives and dies
Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul,
And ancient Ireland knew it all.
Whether man die in his bed
Or the rifle knocks him dead,
A brief parting from those dear
Is the worst man has to fear.
Though grave-diggers' toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscles strong.
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.

It's one of those passages by Yeats I keep puzzling over.

genevieve said...

Yeats was a bit of a spiritualist, Tim. As well as being fairly given to elliptical remarks.

Thanks for the lovely post, PC.

Anonymous said...

My mother was a big fan of the phrase "given up the ghost".

comicstriphero said...

Now this post is much nicer to read than your last one.

Sunshine, lollypops and rainbows....

Mindy said...

Sometimes I'm sure I hear my Dad chuckling and shaking his head when I do something silly. Rather comforting really.