You have to love 94-year-old women who still tend their own gardens. We're not talking a few pots and 6'x6' of grass here. We're talking close to 10,000 square feet of yard that includes two mango trees (both over 60 years old), a lemon tree, a guava tree, the newly planted guapple that is supposed to be a cross between a guava and an apple, several banana trees (you can't kill these guys ...), a Surinam Cherry (aka Princess Eugenia cherry) bush, and one more papaya tree --- all of which bear fruit that gets eaten for breakfast, made into something edible, given away to whomever will take it, or sliced/diced/pureed/juiced and popped into the freezer. Then there's the look-at stuff: the Bird of Paradise, the 3 dozen or so orchid plants, the Royal Ilima bushes that Daddy hates and periodically cuts down, the Ixoria with its wonderful hemispheres of brilliant flowers that seem to bloom forever but are terribly susceptible to powdery mildew, the brilliantly multicolored crotons and the Lantana, several varieties of ti leaves, ferns and ornamental grasses -- and the lawn. This is green garbage week, which means the City will haul away for free all garden waste -- with certain limitations. No can or bag can weigh more than 50 lbs. You can't put in sharp things that could poke out eyes. If it's not bagged or in a can, it must be bundled. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of green garbage week are always garden days. If I can't find Mother in the kitchen or at her typewriter, I only need look in the bushes that ring the yard. She'll be in between or behind something that's two or three times her size, perched on a one-step rubbermaid stool and armed with a large butcher knife, a pruning saw, and a hefty pair of pruning shears. I've learned that if she cuts and throws, I can follow around with a garbage can or -- when I can get away with it, bags -- and bag or bundle, then move everything out to the top of the driveway for pickup. Bags, you see, are only used once and cost $$$. Which, I remind you, they have enough of.
Have I made a difference? Although no one would be caught saying Yes!, I was instructed to call a classifed ad in to the evening newspaper today -- the one that gets run free for 7 days. Yard helper wanted, 3-4 hours once or twice monthly. Easy. $10/hr. Kahala. (with telephone number). She recognizes she can't do it all herself. Daddy wouldn't even if he could. He figures if the lawn is mowed, the garden work is done. But life is easier with two working, and green garbage is only picked up twice a month. Oh yes. HE hired the yard man. HE will direct the yard man. SHE may not. The yard man will ONLY do lawns. So this second yard helper is a small act of defiance.
As for the bundling -- that's all done with rags. My mother grew up in the country, was in high school and college during the Great Depression. Nothing goes to waste in this house. Every garment -- including underwear -- gets stripped into more-or-less 1" strips and used to tie things up. If it's too small to make useful strips, it gets cut into larger pieces to use for cleaning rags. If a garment still has some life, it gets washed, ironed and sent to Goodwill. Maybe I will suggest she cut strips for rag rugs which I can make next winter!
I give thanks that my mom is still able, at nearly 94, to do this much for herself. I look forward -- because looking back does me no good. I keep praying, and hope you will, too.