Reaching a benchmark in life

A few weeks ago Ihad to come to a decision, one made out of necessity rather than choice. It is a benchmark in my life, when I think about it. I have decided not to plant a garden this year.

And I don’t mean a “patch” but a garden. Mine is 60 feet x 20 feet, and I work it-several times-with out Troy-Bilt tiller. Then there is the planting, hoeing-also, several times-weeding, watering plants, and lime dusting, if the bugs are bad. A garden is work. It is a labor of love, but it is work.

This decision probably sounds like much less than a benchmark to you, but it falls into that category for me because, you see, there has not been one year of my life that I have not had a garden in my back yard. That includes growing up on the farm, right up until last summer-63 years to be exact.

I’m writing about it for different reasons. We all make decisions-every day, in fact-but they are not all the same. Some affect just us, some affect others. Some seem to be already made for us, others come with options-too many sometimes. Some are easily and quickly made, others require time and consideration.

I’m, also, writing about it because there are some out there who will knowingly nod their heads in the affirmative about my decision, and others who won’t understand just yet. That’s the difference between the elderly among us and the very young, too young to understand my plight.

You see I’m not planting my garden this year because I badly wrenched my right knee (missing a step on the ladder) in February, and that knee has yet to heal and allow me my freedom back. I’ve had “bad knees” for ten or twelve years now, but the fall exacerbated the problem, to say the least. But the knee problem is not the gist of this writing.

The gist is that my body has failed me for the first time, to the point that I cannot do what I want to do. Giving up the freedom of making decisions of that type has not set well with me. I have always been very independent and active, choosing when to do what I wanted to do. Now, all of a sudden, a very important choice has been made for me. I won’t be planting a garden this year.

But even more humbling and upsetting is the fact that, as the years pass, more and more decisions will be made for me because of my health. I have always tried my very best to put myself in the place of those older than I. I have true respect for them and how they are able to live their lives. But, now, I actually have a taste of it. This body might not work the way I want it to, and that will mean changes in my life that I’ll not likely welcome. Decisions will be made forme. Old benchmarks will disappear, and new ones will take their place. Life, as I have known it, will not be the same.

The greatest disappointment of not haveing the garden is that I won’t be able to share it all. Each year, there are certain people who find y plastic Kroger bags full of tomatoes, cukes, cabbage, peppers, leaf lettuce, and sweet corn on their porch stoop. I get such satisfaction out of making those stops all summer long at the homes of those who have no space for a garden. But the biggest reward is that it always represented, for me, sharing God’s bounty. He gave me the land and the desire, but, in the end, He provides the miracle of a sprouting seed and the final crop.

But, at the heart of it, when all is said and done, I am always a positive person. Even though this has been difficult to accept, I know I must look for the good in it all. And that came when I went next door to tell Sarah to tell her Dad not to plow my garden this year. I told her it was so difficult to actually say those words. Sarah looked at me, gave me a hug, and said, “Bonnie, we will always share our garden with you.”

So, I know I’ll have a ripe tomato and a crisp cucumber now and then that Joe will leave on my back porch. And a half dozen ears or so of sweet corn will, I’m sure, appear there, also.

And, you know, this old body could heal and hold up for another winter. No garden this year? Well . . .there’s always next year. Maybe I better start that Troy-Bilt and keep it limbered up.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I wrote this piece in May of 2011. Since then, I have had knee replacement, lots of therapy, and am nearly as good as new! And this summer-2013-there is a garden in my back yard! Cucumbers have already been my fare, and Big Boy tomatoes and Honey Select sweet corn will soon be on my plate-and the door stoop of many friends, too.