The Part About Renewal

So…here’s a Spring thing: all of a sudden I have a garden.

Not to harp on the fact that I very recently lost my mother, but those of you who have been through losing a beloved parent know it’s a life-changing event. More so perhaps for me, because she lived here. (Not trying to one-up anybody on loss. It’s just that the more your life was entwined with somebody else’s, the weirder the day-to-day adjustment. Then again, what do I know? I only know what it’s like for me, not for anybody else. Scratch that whole thought.)

Initially this was her house. She inherited it from a friend who died with three houses and no remaining blood relatives. I came up to Cambria from LA to live with her, because she inherited the house with a mortgage. (Twenty-seven years ago! How on earth did I get to be so old?) Between the two of us, we were able to keep up with the bills. This is probably my #1 secret to success as a writer: a cheap roof over my head. Years before she died, she put the house in my name, because I’d been paying the bills with my writing for as long as either of us could remember. So I’m used to the house feeling like mine. But the garden always felt like hers.

Oh, I had a mint patch that I on-and-off tended. It still bears mint despite my occasional neglect. And I did take some interest in the dwarf Meyer lemon tree she presented me for a recent birthday. Still, she watered it when it was new.

You might be glad to know I have a guy who comes in twice a month to weed, water, cut back, etc. I’m not sure I’m all that garden needs. Then again, the same was true of my mom in her late 80s. It’s fairly low maintenance, and I trust it to survive.

The garden has a new addition. It’s a Ginko tree. It was a gift from three good friends, and it arrived on my porch (carried by one of said friends, who didn’t know my small dog, Ella, well enough to realize that stealth is not possible) a few days after my mom died. I planted it right in the center of the yard, despite the fact that it will eventually get very large. I figure it can be cut back as needed. I figure I have a guy to rake up leaves twice a month. I figure it’s my decision now. The garden can be whatever I want or need it to be. Which is a surprisingly weird feeling. But not altogether unpleasant.

When the Ginko tree arrived, it was a collection of small, nearly-bare branches. Just tight little buds to break up the wintery look. Despite a notation in the instructions warning that the Ginko is slow to adjust to transplantation, it burst into foliage immediately. It was so sudden and sure that I took to posting “before and after” pictures on Facebook.

So, for whatever it’s worth, my thoughts on Spring are simply that life goes on, and there’s comfort in that fact. When I was caring for my mom in those final Hospice days, I remember waking up each morning, stepping out into the back yard, and noting, with some odd surprise, that the sun was coming up anyway. It seemed more remarkable somehow. Like no matter what happens, or what changes, we can always rely on certain things. The sun will come up in the morning, and leaves will burst out on the trees in the Spring.

Life goes on.


  1. I know exactly what you mean about living cheaply, Catherine...And this is such a lovely post. Winter never gets the last word, does it?

  2. Catherine--this was such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it with me. We've planted trees at my mom's house after our "losses" and we take the pictures and measure the kids against them all the time. <3

  3. "my thoughts on Spring are simply that life goes on, and there’s comfort in that fact."

    Yes, this.

  4. Thank you for sharing this post, Catherine. Wishing you a gentle spring <3


Post a Comment