My Aunt Cecelia passed away on Sunday after a long illness. I was told yesterday that on that morning, after months of pain and suffering and not much communication, she sat up in bed and said, "Isn't it beautiful"?
Hearing her exclamation, I was taken back to summer trips I made home after moving to Houston. I visited Aunt Celie often, and it was always with the intent of seeing her Garden as well as her. They were united. I would go in mid day, after what she called her "Stories". She would have been working outside all that morning, her sleeveless blouse exposing her firm tan arms. Always barefoot, she had what I call Garden Feet, dusty on top with dirt in between each and every toe ... a great pleasure known to those of us who really understand gardening.
We would eventually make our trip outdoors to take it all in, my preview always being the large picture window in the dining room, that framed this masterpiece beautifully ... the tied back, white sheer lace curtains.
The walk into her garden always began from the door of her garage and included my needing to pause so that I could take it all in from right there. Then we would walk down the slope of the yard and out into the middle, where we would stop to be surrounded by color ... a giant box of Crayons kind of color. And when you looked down and around it was never dirt or mulch that you saw. Every square inch contained life in the form of tiny succulents and mosses that she kept manicured into thriving green texture with pattern and shades. We would then do our walk through, the questions fired rapidly, the answers right behind. It was like that between us ... we always had so much to cover. And I feel that my own garden is a reflection of her tastes in color. It's also a reflection of the perfection I know she strived for and achieved.
There are other memories too ... her love of cats and how she showed it in every room, the shelves containing hundreds of miniatures in every shape, breed and color ... the hamburgers in the electric skillet with the buns laid on top after turning, to crisp the edges ... her home made donuts lightly dusted with sugar ... and her glider on the front porch.
I believe Aunt Celie was talking about heaven Sunday morning. And I believe too, that she was talking about her garden. For aren't they one in the same? And isn't that beautiful?