The following is a guest post from my friend, Linda McKay Brewer.
Tonight, I went out to what we had hoped would be our vegetable garden. Every year on Memorial Day weekend, Peter and I would plant the garden. In the early years the garden was carefully planned, with exact spots for beets, carrots, yellow and green beans, summer squash, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. Every day Peter would inspect, weed and water, and pinch bugs. And soon we would be picking splendid fruits of his labor. I quickly learned how to can all those vegetables and we enjoyed many a tomato and relish throughout the winter and into spring.
But as this disease takes its toll, the garden has as well. You can measure the stage of the disease through the garden's success.
Time was the first challenge. Peter wanted to plant too early. And of course the frost won. The following year's plants would be growing only to be weeded out. This year the garden, despite the help of caregivers, is just weeds. Chives thrive in a tangled mess, but tomatoes that once grew 50 pounds from 6 plants were a rare jewel. Squash rot on the blossom, cucumber growth is stunted, and peppers have gone. Marigolds grow on the edges as does the mint.
In this tangle of weeds where the bright red cherry tomatoes pop through when least expected, I see what is the Alzheimer's brain. A tangle of weeds, with rare moments of clarity as bright as a ripe tomato. This year we will visit the farm stands to enjoy fresh vegetables. Next year our gardens will be wild flowers. And I will weep for what was.
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