Today was my last day at the garden. It had to be cleared out before the end of the month, so I went over to pull everything out and thus end my growing season. I was once again gifted with little surprises. A few remaining red and green tomatoes, broccoli and  tender sprouts that grow from where I removed that large cabbage head earlier in the season.

first garden pik
The garden was just beginning!

The cucumber died out a while ago. They were my first reliable crop, so sweet, juicy and crisp. After tasting how much flavor they had, I realized why I hadn’t previously been fond of the vegetable: they’d had no flavor. My bell peppers didn’t do anything for months, but I left them in the ground to be surprised with a bumper crop of peppers in the past few weeks. I learned this year that turnips greens have been genetically modified so that turnip bottoms grow on separate plants. So, I was quite happy to find the baby turnips when I pulled the turnip greens (tops) from the ground.

I left the sage, basil, catnip and marigolds. They were worker plants and will thrive a bit long.

I’ve learned a lot from all these different plants. Sometimes it was just about the plants and sometimes it transferred to what I can know about people.

last garden pic
The garden today

I’ve learned a lot from the planters, too. The older, retired white Americans, my African American colleagues, the Filipinos, Ghanaians and Kenyans have all shared their harvest, their wisdom and their love of gardening. I started out gardening with my sister and loved the days when we would reminisce about my mom’s and grandmother’s gardens.  The drive over got to be more than we realized it would be, but I kept on, probably surprising both of us.  I’ve blogged and FBed about this garden way more than I ever thought I would. I think it filled a social, spiritual and creative gap for me. I’ll miss it, but life goes on.

So, I began my morning planning my day, my week and thinking of all the committee work I have in front of me, the growing pile of books I have growing for BFYA and the articles I need to write for tenure. My phone rang and all this seemed rather pointless.

Chance's Graduation
My son and DIL

My son’s brother in law passed away last night. Kyle was in his mid 20s and because he suffered with cystic fibrosis, spent much of his life in a care facility. I have to confess I really didn’t know Kyle so, I’m really not sure why I’ve wilted into a puddle today. Perhaps it’s knowing my son and daughter-in-law are in pain and there is nothing I can do for them. It could be because I can relate to the horror my son’s MIL is going through having now lost her child, or maybe it’s just anger at the American health care system.

Kyle stayed at home as long has his physical needs could be met. Once he needed more care and equipment than could be available there, he was moved and that’s when his nightmares began. There have been broken bones, infections and so many other instances of what I’m going to call neglect. Clothing items, toys and trinkets bought for him often disappeared. They were “lost in the wash”. Now, this is one child with a ferocious mother. This is one child, one human child abused in care facilities right here in the US. There are certainly others all of whom are voiceless.

Who speaks for the mentally and physically challenged?  They’re not in YA fiction or children’s picture books, not on CNN, not in Starbucks commercials and not in Steven Spielberg’s latest movie. My, god, who would want to see about that? The thing is, we all have people with special needs in our families!

We do hear about the tremendous blessings felt by those who love and care for the less abled, but we never hear about the challenges they face finding or affording care or the abuse they face at the hands of their providers. Silly me, I thought people who worked with those who are disabled did it because of a special calling.

I would like to hope Obamacare with alleviate some of this, that it will get prenatal care to women so that many debilitating illnesses can be cured in vitro and so that better long term care can be there for those in need. I want to hope.

Kyle is gone. Kyle was a special one here in this garden of humanity. The sun shined on his smile. Some of the crap thrown on him was fertilizer, too much of it wasn’t. The best part of him lives in full bloom.

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