One of my cousin Pamela Lawton's Window Collection paintings.
I give you fair warning, this post contains exactly one reference to gardening. There. You can't say I didn't warn you. It has three parts: Family, Friends, and Floods. They're not strictly accurate divisions, since family turned up in part 2 as well as 1, but I couldn't resist the alliteration.
Those of you who have been doing your homework (i.e., reading my posts) know that I've been in the Northeast. The occasion was a family gathering in Massachusetts to honor my father (yes, I know, the third such gathering). I spent it talking with cousins, second cousins, first cousins once-removed, step-cousins, step-cousins twice-removed, and all possible permutations thereof, as well as the occasional sister, uncle, and nephew.
My husband spent it playing with the many children in attendance, earning for himself the exhausted thanks of most parents there, and the exalted title of Pied Piper. People watched in awe as he and a troop of kids ranging in age from four to sixteen disappeared up the streamside path towards the waterfall a mile away, then reappeared two hours later with all the kids' knees and tempers intact.
I drafted a post on the plane home on Tuesday, but haven't had time to finish it, dad nab it. It's been busy.
The day after our return we had dinner with some old friends from out of town, and while going out would have been less work, eating in meant we could have arugula pesto and fresh garden salad, and with the raspberries just coming on strong, the image of a raspberry tart began to float in my mind… We stayed in.
Today one of my cousins and his family, en route to Yellowstone, arrived. This is the most marvelous family. Seven-year-old Julia helped pick peas, currants, and cherries, shelled peas and beans for the potato salad (with home-grown potatoes, of course), told me all about the books she's reading, and left the hammock as soon as her brother gave her a half-hour turn and walked away. (What's the point of winning the hammock, if her brother isn't standing by waiting for his turn?)
Would you hire this guy to take care of your garden? Of course you would. Look at the light of responsibility shining in those eyes, the earnest, concentrated furrow in the brow, the hint of humor about the mouth.
Wait, that must be some other picture. Or some other guy.
So seriously, would you trust this guy? Not a chance.
Well, that's the difference between us: I did. Of course, he's my son, which may be a mitigating factor, or just an explanation.
I mean, here I am on the east coast with all my extended family, and there he is back in Bozeman, Montana, with the garden, so it seemed like a no-brainer.
A day or so after the phonecall from Connie, I got an e-mail from one of my cousins: he'd be coming to Toronto. With his brother. Next day there was another. Then one from one of my step-cousins, a nephew of Con's who planned to come with his wife from California. Then something from another cousin, who would be bringing her mother, the last of my father's siblings.
So it went, and kept going. At last count, some sixteen people from both Con's family and Dad's will be here, including my husband and one of our sons. Sixteen people! We'd hoped for a handful.
A few days after Dad's death, Con and I organized a gathering for him here at Christie Gardens, the retirement home where they've lived for years. That had been so spontaneous–practically demanded by the many staff and residents who kept accosting Connie in the halls, asking when it would be–that there'd been no time even to alert family or friends outside this community. So we would need another time for family and close friends to gather. But Dad's work, into which he'd poured so much of his energy and passion, what of that?