Thursday, October 01, 2015

A Memory jog …

Recently I ran into the son of one of my Hospice patients who died in 1982.  It really took me aback because he looked exactly like his dad, Ernest.  After the initial shock I realized that it made perfect sense because he was now about the age that his dad had been when he died.

Most of our patients had very short life spans so it was difficult to get a close relationship; but the exception in my case was Ernest.  He lived for over six months and we became fast friends. He was a 74 year old black man who lived 6 miles north of me so it was easy to stay in touch and we did so almost daily.

Ernest lived in a small cement block house that he had built years before. It was primitive but very snug with a simple front porch. The house was situated to the rear of the property and overlooked the land that had been in Ernest’s family for centuries. His many acres of open fields were rented by nearby farmers to plant tobacco and cotton.

The most unusual thing, however, was his “memorial garden”. It was an acre of lawn in front of his house that was carefully manicured and with 8 or 9 dead tree trunks that had been artistically placed. These were not random trees, but ones they had picked because of their interesting shapes. The final effect was, indeed, a “garden of memorial statuary”, somewhat resembling sentries on guard.

Ernest explained it to me one day as we sat rocking on his front porch. It seems that his grandfather had loved the gnarled and stark-looking dead trees on his farm. When he died and they couldn’t afford a memorial stone, they thought to cut down one of his beloved trees and to use that. It soon became a tradition. Ernest told me the story of each of the “statues” and who was commemorated there. He said they were re-sanded and oiled yearly and that was what gave them their lovely patinas. The two small trunks with intertwining branches were in memory of his twins who had died 48 years earlier.

That was 33 years ago but the memories flooded back as I greeted his son.  I was a little flustered by the resemblance to his dad and didn’t think to ask if the memorial garden is still intact but I pray it is.  I’ve seen many elaborate and costly memorials...but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that exuded such peace and serenity.


Blogger kenju said...

That's a nice story. Interesting that the son looks so much like his dad as to flood those memories back to you so clearly.

8:13 AM  
Blogger possum said...

Oh wow... that sounds so cool. I wonder who will keep it up........

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very nice tribute Ginnie. Thank you for sharing this.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

What a wonderful memory to have come back and what a wonderful friend you had in Ernest.

3:54 AM  
Blogger ellen said...

Dear Ginnie, I love this. It's a beautiful memory to hold in your heart. Thank you.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Beautiful. Those memories are something to hold close in your heart.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Marie Smith said...

Smile and a tear. Thank you.

11:17 AM  

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