When I was 12 years old, I received a pot of dirt for Christmas. At least, that is all it looked like to me. My Godmother always sent thought filled and creative gifts, so I watered it and waited. An Amaryllis flower emerged and I was awestruck! That was it, I was hooked on plants and spent the rest of my life learning about them and growing them. Soon, I knew every one of my neighbors who had a garden and was working at a large nursery which specialized in perennial plants. My backyard was a jungle of plants with a tiny path winding through.
I went to SUNY Cobleskill where I earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture. My plan at that time was to go on in internship at Longwood Gardens. If you have never been there, Longwood gardens is exquisite and if you find yourself near Philadelphia, I urge you to go at any time of the year. The internship involved horticultural education and I would have been there for two years. I prepared for about a year in advance to get this. The interview went well and everything seemed lined up perfectly. Just before Christmas 1999, I received a letter stating that I had been denied admittance. I was devastated! So, I called and asked why. My academic advisor had not sent in his portion of the paperwork. I was so upset. I called him. “I guess I forgot.” Were his words. He went on to tell me that I had 2 weeks to find another internship or I would not be able to graduate that Spring. My world seemed to be falling apart. But, my dad knew a guy who went to church with a guy who owned a greenhouse business. The guy, Paul, needed help and soon my internship started there. It was a great experience, I learned about growing annuals and geraniums and many plants that I had not previously grown. While I was there I met Eddie. It turned out, Ed was friends with Paul, and came out a couple days a week to help plant. Ed was truly a plant guy. He loved nature and lived most of his life outside. Eddie had started a tiny nursery specializing in perennials, which are my favorite plants, and he had just grown it to the point that it paid his bills. He still worked 2 jobs during the winter, but his basic bills were met. We hit it off immediately. When I visited his nursery that first time, he had 2 greenhouses and a few coldframes. His life was simple, but happy. We were married the next year. To this day, I am so grateful my academic advisor made that mistake! Longwood is an amazing place, but this adventure was by far better. Our life was simple and happy and good.
The nursery throve and now we have 5 greenhouses and 6 coldframes. We had 8 joyful, peaceful, easy years. Then, in 2010, Ed was diagnosed with cancer. The gastrologist looked at him and said, “This is the worst case scenario. You are dying and there is nothing anyone can do.” His bedside manner was appalling. The next doctor was not much better. Eventually, my mother-in-law went to see her family doctor and weeping in his office, begged him to see her son. He agreed. He told Ed he had one chance. Neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer does not respond well to chemotherapy, but surgery offers some hope. He sent us to a fantastic surgeon. The surgery is intense, but it gave him hope that the cancer could be removed. The operation went well and Eddie was cancer free for a year. By then, we had a wonderful oncologist who did his best and I had also been researching and was digging dandelion out of the yard or giving Ed large doses of vitamin C. I researched the body’s nutritional needs and learned how to cook. If I am going to be honest, Ed described the diet I fed him as a blend of twigs and bark, so I like to think my skills have greatly improved since then. The result was excellent. Our combined efforts worked. The cancer really did not impact his life until 2015 when he had an unexpected reaction to a combination of drugs which put him in the hospital for almost a week. Eventually, the cancer developed tolerances to various chemotherapeutic agents and the last drug he was on could not be taken with supplements or especially nutritious foods. By this point, the cancer was quite advanced. Ed went to heaven on June 4th, 2018, five days after I turned 40.
Grief is a strange thing. This is really when I began to write. It is not that I suddenly have so much to say, but that writing helps me transform raw emotions into words which I can then sort into thought. There are no words capable of describing the depth of grief in loss. But as the emotions turned to prayers, words began to form. Then I found that there are words to describe what each day felt like moment by moment and expressing these words helped me process the struggle. I miss Eddie every day and I expect I always will, but until I see him again, I wouldn’t want it any other way. And as time goes by, I realize I enjoy writing and as I begin to find greater hope in life, I have even more to share.
Back in 2014, Ed started trying to persuade me to become a Catholic like him. I was skeptical to say the least. But, I humored him. I read about the things that troubled me about the Church. Mary, saints, the pope, I had so many questions. The local priest came over for dinner a couple times to talk about the faith. I have always believed in God, I have always trusted the Bible and as I learned more and more, I began to see a great beauty in the Catholic Church that I had been missing. If you find yourself offended when people mention prayer or God’s great love for us, I am sorry. This site might not be for you. Because I would not have survived the last few years without the ever present love of Jesus. I found myself in a desert of desolation, no hope, no future, with a past far out of reach, yet I knew Jesus was there. I could not feel anything good, I could not see a future for myself, but I knew Jesus was there. No matter what, I am not alone and I know that I am loved. My life has been so touched by the love and grace of God, that sometimes I cannot help but share it.
Over the last six months, a new future has begun to reveal itself. I love what I do, but I cannot sustain the nursery by myself. It is too small to hire employees and too big to do myself. Not that I really do it by myself. I have a wonderful family and fantastic friends who have all given me their time helping me keep the nursery alive. There is no question that I am definitely loved. This blog is an opportunity for me to communicate the great beauty of gardening, the joy of sharing food, and the love of family. You will meet many of my friends as the blog develops, I am already asking them to contribute recipes, crafts, and garden tips. I am looking forward to working with them because I have friends who are better gardeners than me, who are better cooks than me, and who can craft and create beauty out of almost anything better than me. They don’t share all of my views and opinions, please don’t assume that I speak for anyone but myself. But it is the fact that we each see the world with different sets of eyes that makes our perspectives so valuable. This is what makes creativity possible. So, I will share what I know and what I love, and we shall have fun visiting my friends and sharing what they know and love.
My dream is that this blog grows into a loving community of people who enjoy gardening, cooking, and creating. Let’s cultivate a garden of love and goodness together!