I recently had two conversations that in themselves explains so much about my chronic life that it is worth sharing as it may resonate with some of you wonderful people out there…
I was talking (or rather listening) to a relative recently who enjoys nothing more than to tell me how difficult his life is, in detail, as though no one else mattered. During this conversation he began to inform me how difficult it had become to water his few potted plants with his osteoporosis knee. He told me how he thought it was too much to do and no longer enjoyable now. I simply listened.
As he told me I imagined his older body watering his plants and I can imagine the effects that time has had. It can’t be easy to slowly age and witness your abilities change. I also believe that old age is a gift that many will never receive and many chronically ill may never know.
People half his age.
During his tale it never occurred to him who he was talking to and the challenges I face to nurture my own garden. I realized that he would have to want to understand or telling him would be completely pointless… So I didn’t bother.
The truth is that my own garden requires an enormous amount of time and work, and it is unrelenting. Everyday there is something to be done to keep it in a healthy state, even if I am far from a healthy state myself. I now know that a garden is a luxury that many fighters no longer can have due to disabilities and confinement, so as often as I can I go out in my little wheelchair and water my plants, trim and nurture my garden and do whatever I can until my body aches, shakes or breaks. Often I sit there and admire my roses through the tears of pain in my hands or back. It’s worth every tear to me.
I intend to do this for as long as I can and I get as much help from hubby and a gardener as I can. Early into my disabled life I decided that if I had to be confined to my home than it would be my paradise and not my prison. I would have a view from every window to make up for all the places I could no longer get to see. I have stayed true to my goal and today I can’t help but feel amazed and moved when I look back on our little garden and what it has become.
Proud moments are like diamonds to those who struggle for health; Rare and priceless.
I realized that most of my friends and relatives will never understand what it takes and what an amazing achievement it is to have a garden when you have debilitating illnesses. It’s just not something that they would even consider. So I don’t tell them.
A few days later I was chatting online with a fellow Autoimmune who also enjoys gardens, she is an amazing lady and we share our passion for our gardens with pride!
As we exchanged tips and stories of our beloved flowers a whole other conversation was also happening at the same time. We were appreciative of the effort each would have made to give life and love to our little plants. We were silently admiring the courage and perseverance that it takes to keep going despite the awful pain and fatigue we face. The tears we would have shed and the indescribable relief we feel when we see a healthy bud or a flash or green.
For Autoimmunes like us our gardens are built on our courage and willpower and watered by our tears of pain. There is no such thing as a simple garden for us as even the most hardy of plants requires some care and devotion. These are things that we work so hard achieve, and more than almost any other gardeners we know.
To the chronic gardener Our gardens represent so much more than a real estate accessory, they are our link with life. They are our personal testimony that we are alive and still doing our outmost. They are our ability to hope and to create in a world that feels like it is falling away and given up on us. It is our appreciation of beauty and Our renewed trust in nature.
Gardens are a reminder of the little things in life and a teacher that no classroom can provide.
I never thought of myself as ever being a garden lover as I am today, I was more likely to kill a plant than to nourish one, but today as I sit on my porch amidst the heavy sweet scent of the jasmine and watch a lazy spring breeze tickling its way through our weeping trees, I feel a peace that I have never experienced in my life and it’s addictive powers are incredibly deep. Just as there is currently no cure for autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for the love of gardening for a chronic Gardner and we will pay whatever price we have to just to see our gardens live and thrive, even if we can’t.