The Yellow House in Calder

I think one of the best things about getting to know people is that you learn to know not just them, but their families. Their stories, who they are, what they are a part of, become part of your life.

I have "known" Brown Owl's family for a while. Her mother, who had been so vibrant, until the ALS came, and then was vibrant in that secret place inside of her, until reaching heaven. And Brown Owl's dad, the gardener.

I was sad at his funeral for many reasons. Because Brown Owl loved him, was dedicated to him. Because she cared for him, and with her mother gone, she was more alone, and it hurt me to see her hurt. I was sad because I looked at the picture of the soldier and his girl, on the back of the prayer card, and my heart hurt that he was gone. I hurt because he was a good man, and those are few and far between. I hurt, because I hurt for his garden, left alone, without the gardener to tend to it. Those of you who are gardeners will understand, in the midst of my hurt for Brown Owl, I worried, just a bit, about what would happen to his garden.

I knew a bit about Brown Owl's dad, and I knew a lot about his garden. I have always thought that our gardens are our gifts to the world, and never more so than Wednesday night, as I walked through it. I have a pretty nice garden.

This garden? This was the garden of a life time. A real life time. Decades. 50 years, if I recall correctly. This is the garden of a man who planted an oak tree, about 10 years ago or so. This is the garden of a man who loved growing things.

It was my great and good honour to see it. To really look. Not just at what was blooming, but what was hiding. The ferns. The Columbine. The larkspur, the bachelor's buttons, the roses, the peonies. To look and look and look.

And perhaps, perhaps the ultimate in honour. To bring things home to my garden, to carry forward more memories. To write, on the back of plant markers, "Al's garden, 2009".

Alleluia, Amen.