Friday, April 23, 2010

Aunt Tee in My Garden

It was just three years ago when my mom passed away unexpectedly. I was 30 and losing my mom made me feel like I was 12. I felt too young to possibly go on without her. Just before my mom passed, my aunt, her sister, finally succumbed to her 3rd battle with cancer. She was both physically and mentally handicapped and chose, when she found out she had cancer for the 3rd time, not to treat it. I always worried she didn't fully understand the decision she was making but I knew she was tired of fighting. She'd been fighting since was 13. She was 49 when she died.

My mom took this loss hard. Her little sister had been more like her little baby doll and she had always taken care of her. Just 7 months later, my mom was gone.

Shortly after my mom passed away, my Great Aunt Tee was diagnosed with Leukemia. I've often wondered whether she was "diagnosed" then or whether she just couldn't hide it anymore. She and my Great Uncle Corny had been like my mother's second set of parents and very much like my second set of grandparents. Losing my mom was hard on the both of them. My Aunt Tee was spunky, even in her 80's. I remember going to K-Mart with her as a child and barely being able to keep up with her. She always walked so fast and could do most anything. She might've weighed 100 lbs.

Aunt Tee and Uncle Corny never had children. I have never known why and truly, until recently, I've never even wondered why. We were all their children and they took care of us as though we'd been their own. The had 50 acres in the country in Southeast Georgia. And I figure the term green thumb must've been coined after my Aunt Tee. I believe, as did everyone who knew her, she could grow plants in the air. My Uncle Corny used to tell her, "Tee, Plants don't grow in the air!". Referring to her constantly planting new ones or moving the ones she already had to another spot. But I think he might've been wrong. I truly believe plants can grow in the air. At least for her.

Just four months after losing my mom, my Great Uncle Corny was gone. He'd had heart troubles for years and one night he passed peacefully in his sleep. I knew my Aunt Tee wouldn't be long for this world after that. They'd been married about 65 years. They really only knew life with each other. Just 3 months after losing Uncle Corny and just 7 months after losing my mom, my Aunt Tee was gone. Passing on her sister's (my grandma's) 87th birthday and buried on my 31st. That was a tough year for me.

Just after my Great Uncle Corny and Great Aunt Tee were gone the family went in to claim precious possessions of their own as we prepared to sell "The Farm". Those luscious 50 acres with ponds, a vineyard and more trees, flowers, rose bushes and fruit than you could imagine. I got a kitchen table. The one we'd eaten Thanksgiving dinners at for more years than I can remember. But the most wonderful things I got were comprised of roots and dirt. My 4 year old and I spent an entire day digging up everything we could. I couldn't bare to leave any of it behind but I couldn't have possibly taken it all. No human could've. There was just too much of it. But I dug up daffodils, daylilies, gladiolas, irises, amaryllis, rose bushes, pecan trees, dogwoods, camellia bushes and a few other things I don't even know the name of. I lost the pecan trees and the camellia bushes, too. I can't keep camellia bushes alive fresh from the store much less in the air.

This was April of the following year. Maybe the worst time for transplanting some of that stuff, maybe the best. I don't really know. The truth is, at the time, I didn't really know anything about plants and flowers. I kept them out of the ground for too long, I probably didn't transplant them when I should have and I let them sit right where they were until they had grown leaves and began to bud again toward the end of spring. When the bulbs finally did get planted, we probably didn't plant them deep enough. Back then I didn't even know that could be an issue. I thought you just had to put them in the dirt. (See my original post from 2008: My Inheritance)

Now, two years later, I have more daffodils, gladiolas and amaryllis than I can count. The irises and daylilies need separating. And I hate to say it, Uncle Corny, but I think a few of them will have to be moved somewhere else by next year! The rose bushes have never been lovelier and the dogwood is about to bloom. And even though I've had to replace the camellias with 3 news ones (and only one of those finicky gals didn't make it) and we've put in new pecan trees this year, all of whom appear to be fine, my yard reminds me of "The Farm". It isn't quite 50 acres of lusciousness just yet, but it's a start!

And while you might think that all of this is evidence than I can, like my Great Aunt Tee, grow plants in the air. I assure you it isn't me. It's Aunt Tee in my garden.


  1. That was a most ~Beautiful~ Heartfelt story ~Thankyou~ x

  2. I still think about your momma. I miss her so much. Now I wish I'd known Aunt Tee too!

  3. I loved this, bless Aunt Tee! They still teach us, don't they? Glad you wrote this, thanks.


  4. That was the most beautiful touching story! Thank you so much for sharing.
    Warm wishes,

  5. Hi Jamie!

    I just love the your writings.
    You certainly have a way with words.
    Something so soothing about the way I feel after having read them.

    Blessings to you and yours.

  6. its 11:30 on a Friday night and Ive had a really bad day...brought work home and just took a break to look over some stuff on FB ...etc.
    Was cking out your blog when I read your story... and all I can say is. THANK YOU. Thank you for sharing and putting a little perspective back on things for me. Beautiful story.
    God Bless ;-)


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