“Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy’d the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done.”
~ Matthew Arnold
We’re in the gardens at the care home where my mother-in-love lives. Gerry is pushing her wheelchair while she mostly dozes; I’m walking alongside with Maya on her leash.
The flowering bulbs are finished, the bed they adorned raked clean waiting for more finery to fill empty spaces. In a raised bed, radishes, lettuce, beets, spinach, and a good variety of weeds, grow; in another, strawberries are beginning to blush. Colourful assortments of flowers grow in large rectangular pots that are the perfect height for a wheelchair-bound person to admire. The large lilacs are finished but a smaller hybrid of some sort fills the air with a sweet perfume as we stroll past.
We meander, pausing here and there, stopping always when we encounter a resident who expresses delight at our little Yorkie. I lift her up so they can see her better, they coo and pet her, and often tell me about the little dogs who were once their precious companions.
A few weeks ago, I spent a pleasant few minutes chatting with a lovely woman who took notice of Maya. She told me about her family who lived far away, and how she was going to buy flowers for herself on Mother’s Day. I thought she was a care aide until I saw her later, in distress, being gently escorted toward the elevators: “Do you mean I live here?”
On this day, we walk slowly and quietly. It’s a slow day for Mum and she doesn’t respond much. We hope she appreciates the opportunity for a walk in the garden anyway. As lunchtime approaches we move toward the doors leading back inside. I lag behind as Maya finds something important to sniff and hear something above. I look up to see the woman I talked with a few weeks ago knocking on the window. She smiles and waves and I do the same.
I doubt that she remembers our earlier conversation; she may not remember ever seeing me and my little dog before at all. But I remember, and even though I don’t really know her at all, as I greet her silently in that moment, I pay homage to a life that was and is a precious treasure.