Look Tom, the azaleas are out. Do you remember the ones you planted for me when you came home from the war? Crimson red, salmon pink, pastel-kissed white. And camellias too. Such a beautiful perfume. They always make me think of you and how you promised you’d never leave me again. It would always be you and me.
Ha, do you remember trying to get me out into the yard to help. What a laugh. I was so worried about destroying my nails. But then you showed me how the king parrots, lorikeets and blue faces loved visiting the Crepe Myrtle. The butterflies too. Bit by bit you lured me out and eventually it became our thing. You’d hum, and I’d sing.
Then when the boys left home, back in the garden we found our peace and purpose. Having something to do year-round as autumn followed summer, followed spring, followed winter. You’d dig the spinach through, and I’d prepare the beetroot seeds.
Look Tom, the parrots are making the most of the last of autumn’s Grevilleas. Won’t be long now and everything will sleep for winter. It’s a bit hard getting out there with my hands so gnarled and bent. Especially in the cold. But still, you’ll potter, and I’ll stroll.
Even though this isn’t what we’d planned, I’m glad we can still be together. Having a place to ourselves and having you here with me is all I need to make it “home”. We can do without “grand” can’t we Tom? We don’t need much. You still read the paper, and I still do the puzzles.
But do you feel it Tom? The cold? Doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to get warm these days. Deep down in my bones, weariness flows like winter through my veins. Maybe we can sit in the sun like we used to all those summers at the beach. You can get that look off your face, I’m far too old for that.
It must be lunch. That lovely young lady with the corn-flower eyes is making her way down the path. You know the one, her son just married that sweet girl … Bertel, Beryl, Beverly? Now don’t you be rude. You can just be quiet, and I’ll do the talking.
“Good morning Gracie. Ready to come on over to join everyone for lunch?”
“Hello dear. Yes, thanks. You go ahead, I’ll just wait for Tom. He won’t be long.”
“Gracie, Tom’s been gone for five years now. Don’t you remember?”
“What… Oh yes… silly me…”
I’d forgotten. You’ve gone on ahead and left me behind.
“Yes, well. I’ll see you at lunch dear, I’ll just freshen up and make my way over in a little while.”
“That’s okay Gracie, I won’t leave you behind. Take as long as you need, and we’ll go together.”