Gifts come in all sizes and shapes; so does friendship. My friend D works across the hall from my office. Having endured and survived a life-threatening illness, he will admit he has been scarred. I didn’t know him before he became ill, so I don’t know the difference.
I enjoy our conversations; he likes to tell me about the heirloom apples his grandfather grew in Michigan and never fails to mention the rich, sandy loam soil there because he knows I struggle with dense clay and he likes to make me jealous. We’ll reminisce about our children when they were small; talk about art and history and architecture and of course, gardening. He’ll tell me about his mother and the farm on which she grew up and lived on until she died. I’ll tell him about my family. We’ll discuss current events.
His father passed away recently. D had to drive back up to Michigan, to the old home place to take care of his father’s house – and he brought me back a gift.
Four gifts, actually – little spiral shells he picked up off the shore of Lake Michigan, the kind he had played with as a boy; an heirloom apple (Roxbury Russet); a small zip lock bag with the sandy loam soil and a tiny daylily start from his mother’s garden.
He had given me something else, too. He had given me his trust. Trust that I would understand how important the shells, the soil, the apple and the daylily were to him – near sacred memories of home, loved ones now gone, a past that cannot be re-lived, and a home to which he cannot return.
He trusted me to cherish the daylily and grow it in my garden. It has become one of my heirloom perennials – I planted it the moment I got home, watered it in and said a blessing for a woman I never met and felt that I knew and I thanked her for raising such a good man.