This short story (originally written in 1990 and revisited in 2002) is dedicated to all the Beautiful Souls who are connected to the Pilgrim Hospice in Margate where Jesus walks, and to thank each one for The Real Work they do. I offer my profound thanks to God and those who serve him in this place and I dedicate these words to Gill and Andy, my Mum and Dad.
I read this story to the Baptist Women’s Fellowship in October 2006.
IN THE GARDEN…….a place of hope and consolation.
It was the hot summer of 1990, somewhere north of London and this is a true story. It was written by a man who sought God in his grief and was found by Him a dozen years later.
I returned to discover Mum, The Gardener. She was a new incarnation to me, an unlikely sight.
So small there in that green patch of land. I watched her every move from my position inside our little and dilapidating home. I saw how she chuntered; how she pleaded, how she talked to the man she loved and went about the business of ridding the soil of its destructive and greedy weeds, leaving them in small piles, waiting to bin them with force and purpose. She thought of her “Auld Andy” resting just three rooms away. I saw, I am convinced, a small-framed woman saying her prayers in the garden. An unlikely sight indeed!
“Nandy” was Mum’s pet name for Dad – one of the more reportable names! He despised the garden: that was his claim at least. The business of the garden was for him to undertake, a man’s job. Dad had recently employed a man for the job; his name escapes me but I remember he was jovial, if incompetent, and with a colourful turn of phrase! Mum had complained about the nameless gardener’s choice language and the frequent “botch jobs”. Dad then “kicked him into touch” – but very nicely.
This patch of green was like a scourge or threat to my Dad; in much the same way as Mum’s office in the High Street had been, when she conspired to spend most of her life in that place too. The office and now, it would seem the back yard, were other enemies to put to his sword. This was his time and his affection at stake - especially now…
But the garden was really a gift for my mother and for the ancient man, by then a soul leaving with a strange kind of strength. Dignity is the word. His moans belied a deep gratitude and pleasure at the results he saw there; everything was coming up roses. He saw his tiny woman, a Mallen-streaked fire-brand, taking care of his business; grudgingly he seemed pleased.
I caught sight of smiling eyes, which accompanied his ranting. The big Scot would bellow:
“Get your backside in the hoose; you canny cope wi’ that *******’ jungle!!”
Love with a curse!