She liked putting plants in ceramic pots, sinking their roots in new soil, and returning each day to water them and watch each species grow. There were Begonias, Geraniums, Myrtle, Hibiscus, Monrovia, a blackberry bush, Sunflowers, herbs she thought she might one day chop up and add to her food. But she never did. Instead, she collected more plants, filling her yard until there was hardly any space left and her neighbors complained.
“They can’t tell me what to do,” she complained. “It’s my yard.”
“It’s not just about the plants,” I said, reading the letter from the city. “They’re saying that you can’t block the pathway and that they have to be better managed,” I explained, trying to sound hopeful even though I knew she’d have to get rid of most of the plants she owned in order to satisfy the city.
“The plants aren’t bothering anyone,” she looked around as if to show that no one was bothered, but there was no one there.
“Some people have complained,” I informed as gently as I could. “They say the plants are attracting animals and snakes,” I gave my best I’m sorry face.
“No,” she shook her head and picked up her watering can, making her way through the narrow spaces between planters, stumbling and falling on top of leaves and thin vines, water spilling on the ground.
“Maybe we can trim some,” I suggested. “I can get Tony and the boys to come help. We’ll be done in no time.”
“Trim them?” she shot me a look. “How would you like to be trimmed?” she dismissed.
“I have another idea then,” I watched as she finally got to a spot where she could stand comfortably. “How about we go to Home Depot and get some of those plant racks and stands?”
She didn’t answer which meant she was mulling over the idea. Her face was flat, her jaw clenched as she poured water through a mass of tangled Monrovia.
“Okay,” she said, wiping the sweat building on her forehead.
“Let’s make a list of how many you think you’ll need, what kind you want…and maybe we can get some new pots so you can replant the ones that have outgrown…”
“No,” she barked. “I don’t need any new pots.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “Some have cracks in them. Eventually you’ll need to replace them,” I pointed to a few pots that had cracks, and she followed my finger her eyes.
Then a worried look gripped her face, and she let out a soft sigh.
“Paul is here…his ashes…they’re in the soil,” she admitted.
“Oh…” I gasped.
“I wanted him to always be close.”
I put my hands in my pockets, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with her choice, simply imagining her spilling the ashes from his urn into the ceramic pots, tending to the growing plants, talking to them as though they were her best friends because in a way they were. The now overgrown plants had been potted in beautiful planters, nourished with plant food, filtered water, and what she believed was the essence of the man she loved with her whole heart.