Three of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016. I am so deeply thrilled to have them. The others got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009. She possibly did not think them worth saving. I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here. When these diaries began, she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a wooded lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington. A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden.
Because of the events of these two months of 1995, I am publishing the two months together. The gardening entries of June ’97 and ’98 will appear separately.
Illustrations by Marcie Hawthorne
1995 (age 71)
May 4: Went to Lacey to check out new tillers. Ended up at the Troy-bilt tillers. It will cost over $1000 but it is what I’ve always wanted. We will probably trade in the Mantis if we can get a decent price.
May 5: Started veggie seeds in house. Used plastic domes on two of the trays. Planted cukes, celeriac, asparagus (seeds) and lettuce, pepper.
May 8: Took plastic dome off the tray of cukes which were in bathroom planter on top of the heat mat. Several of the cuke plants were 2 1/2 inches tall in 3 days! Switched trays around to get two others on the heat mat.
May 9: My new Troy Built Junior was delivered. It looks so big. Rainy day so I worked in greenhouse. I’m still repotting tomato seedlings.
May 10: Pulled broccoli plants that had gone to seed. They are to be shredded. Potted the rest of tomato seedlings in greenhouse.
May 11: Store day.
May 12: Repotted cuke plants. They are so tall. I’m not sure they will survive transplanting. If they don’t I’ll replant direct in garden. Planted several pots of last year’s marigold seeds into plant trays in greenhouse.
May 18: 11:30-5:00 HOT Watered berries and some in front flower beds. Planted Sunnyslope carnations in PRFB:W [Patio Right Flower Bed West??] edge, I need more! Also weeded in driveway keeping in shade. Started squash seeds and brought them in to place them on heat mat.
May 20: 1:00-7:40 with time out to eat. HOT Spent almost all afternoon planting flower seed (finally). I love doing this job outside so it doesn’t matter if I’m sloppy. Then I spent the evening sorting my seeds into: Do now, do next, do later i.e. plant in fall, winter, etc.
May 23: Bruce in hospital. He went to “lung” dr who put him in the hospital for irregular heart rate. I did some watering and repotted one tray of SG chrysanthemums (hoping to delay planting them until later). It took over 3 hours to repot one large tray of plants. Will do more tomorrow to keep my mind busy.
May 24: All alone and lonesome. And worried. Spent the day working on houseplants. I have to keep busy.
[Note: The hospital was in Olympia and she had never driven in city traffic; in fact, after learning to drive, she had not driven in 8 years.]
May 25: Bruce is home.
May 26: Noon to 8:30 Finished repotting all the chrysanthemums and a few tomatoes. Moved most of the begonia baskets out to the front porch and back porch. Some bulbs aren’t growing.
May 29: 1:00 to 8:30 with time out to eat Spent the time planting flower seeds. I’m trying to just plant perennials and leave the annuals till next spring. I set up one sprinkler hose to water strawberries and onions planted in the asparagus bed.
May 31: Bruce still in hospital. He said he could come home tomorrow. I put out 2 steaks to celebrate.
June 1: Started to clean up tam area [flower bed that once held juniper tams]. Dr. Elledge called with “bad news” about Bruce. He got up to go to bathroom and fell hitting his head then fell into a coma. This is the worst day of my life! After much time trying to arrange a ride to hospital, I called Tyes [neighbours a few blocks away] and they took me to hospital. They did a CAT scan of Bruce’s head and discovered blood on the brain—some old. They operated and drained blood. He was put into critical unit. When I saw him he had tubes running in almost every opening of his body.
I stayed in the Sunshine House on hospital grounds. I spent 10-12 hours in Bruce’s room, talking to him. On Saturday, they thought he was responding a little by making a fist and moving legs. In meantime, I spent time highlighting my new Seed Starters Handbook. One nurse brought me a couple of garden magazines. All the people at the hospital are wonderful, especially the lady chaplain. I spent 2 nights at the Sunshine House. The first one I slept 2 hours and 6 hours the second.
June 4: Today they did a routine test on Bruce to check his lungs. Evidently he has a little pneumonia. He was very unresponsive today. Tyes picked me up and came home. They drove the Toyota home from the clinic. It was awful coming into an empty house. God, if Bruce dies I don’t know what I’ll do alone. I miss him so much. I’m afraid of life alone.
June 5 (Monday): Today I got involved in paper work and didn’t even go outside. It was cool and windy. The social worker called to see how I was. I am going into hospital Wed with VM so Suzanne will reserve a room for me at the Sunshine House.
June 6 (Tuesday) : I planted a lot of seeds today because it seemed to be the only thing I could do. (and none of them grew.)
June 7 (Wednesday): Now this is the worst day of my life. Bruce died today (on my brother Al’s birthday). Dr. Bodin called to tell me Bruce wasn’t responding and it might be best to discontinue life support as Bruce probably won’t get any better. After they took away the breathing machine, Bruce breathed on his own for about 6 hours until he “slipped away”.
She wrote on the next page: The next month is a mess. I didn’t write down most of what did during this time.
June 12: Our 47th anniversary and Bruce is gone. He was cremated today.
June 13: Tyes took me to grocery store. I have to relearn how to drive. I absolutely cannot depend on Tyes to take me places. [Where she lived was at least a couple of miles from Yelm with no bus service.]
June 15 (Thursday): Skyler and Robert came up today through Sunday morning. I have an appt at 10:00 to see attny Perez to find out what needs to be done re settling Bruce’s estate.
June 16: I saw the attorney and became very upset.
(I don’t know what I started to write here.)