I write all the time, every day, even at night. I love words and how they flow across the page. I love to write for children, for tweens, for adults. My world is filled with words. A few years ago my beloved mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia. It is a terrible disease. I watched it rob her of her present and then her past. I watched it rob her of her happiness, her contentment. But, it also robbed her of her words, and, to me, that was the saddest part of all. To not be able to call up the words to describe something, to tell a story, to simply ask for something. I cannot imagine not having words…but I know the pain of a loved one not having those words. The pain of their life slipping away into forever, where there are no words.
So, this year as I planted my flower gardens, I decided to be intentional about my gardens, about my plantings. I planted a gnome garden to remember my children’s childhoods. I planted an herb garden to remember my grandmother and her wonderful gardens and her kitchen that smelled so delicious as she cooked the fruits of those gardens.
Then, I did something special. I planted a memory garden to remember my mother-in-law. I planted Zinnias in the back to represent her at her best – tall, straight, bright. Zinnia’s symbolize important friends/people who are absent. Next, I planted Mardi Gras Coreopsis to represent her happy nature. Coreopsis’ symbolize a cheerful nature. Then, I planted French Double Dwarf Marigolds to represent her ancestry and her love for her husband and son, and later her love for her two granddaughters. Marigolds symbolize joy and optimism, but they also symbolize mourning. She always remembered family who had gone before her. Finally, in the front, I planted alyssum. Those delicate flowers always remind me of her English porcelain skin and white-blond hair. They remind me of her. They represent all that was good in her. Alyssum symbolizes beauty and serenity.
As I walk the pea-stone walkways in my garden, I am reminded of words. The old Royal typewriter sitting on the table in the conservatory. The little garden signs with cheerful sayings. The garden flags with silly sayings. (Come wine awhile) I walk past my mother-in-law’s memory garden and words spring unbidden to my mind. Descriptions of her, the stories she told, the stories I told. Words follow me on the faint breeze, across the marsh, through the tinkle of the fountains as I wander the garden.
Words make up such a massive part of a writer’s life. We spend so much time writing them on plain white paper, the backs of envelopes, recording them in little notebooks. But we don’t have to just write them down, capture them from the ether. We can find words everywhere in life, especially if we take time to smell the flowers.