So I too started gardening - an even more unlikely sight, but without a woman’s touch. Mum and I had shouted and screamed at one another, over the years, it must be said; but not then, not there. In our own ways we became aware of the garden and how it spoke to us in its metaphors and symbols. I would play there, active and creative in my mind – and in deeper places too. The language of the garden. A time to think, a place to smile – and a safe place for tears, concealed in sweat. The garden contained nothing of the language of anger or fear.
My mother and I concluded, in the silence between us, that the garden spoke, not only of an elemental wisdom but of a far greater truth. Feathered friends would become familiar to us. Did we really imagine that they were tarrying just a little longer?
People, too, were just like the plants and flowers we had learned to tend to so closely. They both required nourishment and cherishing – it seemed so clear then. Both would reward us with their beauty.
More beautiful still was Dad’s feeding of his family and his rewarding of us with his Life. He was somehow at his most resplendent at this point in his journey, “The bastard sun….!.” Amongst other un-repeatables!
A touch of the brogue, a touch of London-town. Always an enigma.
Andy Robertson had strength enough to cope with cancer! It was his own battle. He had been a wounded soldier, shrapnel still buried deep (and inoperable) in his head. And there he was, standing in the final moments of another campaign – he would face his foe head-on, never seen to flinch. Tolerant, at the zero hours’ approach.
Like “Grandpa Dixon” –Auld Andy’s favourite yellow rose – my Dad would fade and pass. But they would come to flower again, of this I was becoming sure.
I can picture the cancer now as a marauding force, like weeds. Entering slowly, like a sneak at first, then consuming. Dad’s physical fullness was but a childhood memory. I remember the size and the sleek power of his form; how I had longed, child-like, to grow to his proportion. I never did. More lasting and powerful than this was the essence and the big heart that made this man a very special friend to me – and a spectacularly flawed father. I grew to share this particular characteristic with him.
Dad had finally defeated his obsessions. While temporarily “on hold”, my own battles with pills and potions would continue.
I thought about Dr. Carl Rogers and the lovely simplicity of his thoughts about the way the best people grow through their lives. They were like decaying potatoes in a cellar, thrown and forgotten in a bucket. Rogers thought the potatoes so brave and actualising, pushing out their tubers like curious fingers to the Light of Life. Eventually they shrivelled and died. But in that process, that “tatty” lived such a Life!
My Father might well go down, I thought. But the idea that he might desert his post was impossible. He had plans and purpose. Time had become his companion, not his master, nor his enemy. Dad told us how fantastic all the colours looked in our garden: his wife had done almost as good a job as he’d have done! (A wry smile!) There were flowers by the guv’nor’s chair, fresh without fail. If he couldn’t so easily get to the garden, the garden could be brought to him.